updated 01/09/2013 AT 11:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/09/2013 AT 10:45 PM ET
Sandra Bullock took home big honors for her work in the Big Easy Wednesday night.
The People’s Choice Awards crowned the Oscar-winning actress the favorite humanitarian for her career-spanning philanthropic efforts, including her dedication to New Orleans’s Warren Easton Charter High School
“I’m not at all being modest when I say I’m not doing anything compared to what they do on a daily basis,” Bullock, 48, told the crowd gathered at Los Angeles’s Nokia Theatre.
Just six months after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, the actress showed her support by adopting the school, which sustained $4 million in damages during the storm. She donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for renovations, telling PEOPLE years later that she “felt such a profound need to do something for them.”
Her generosity helped the charter school – the first public high school for boys in Louisiana – afford renovations, new band uniforms, athletic equipment and a new health clinic in a city that’s close to her heart. After all, she adopted her son, Louis, from New Orleans in 2010 and also has a home in the Garden District.
She pointed to the tireless dedication of the school’s students, teachers and tough principal. “I’ve seen her,” she joked. “Yeah, you don’t want to go into that office.”
Bullock then gave a shout-out to her son, who was sick as home, she said.
“[The students] compete, but they never cut each other down,” she added. “And all that happens not because it’s easy, but because they do not allow themselves any other option than to succeed.”