Rob Loud/Getty
Charlotte Triggs
November 22, 2007 10:00 AM

As high-power attorney Miranda Hobbes on Sex and the City, Cynthia Nixon’s character wasn t exactly working pro-bono. In real life though, the actress is serious about giving back to the community – and she’s got her kids helping out as well.

Samantha, 11, and Charles, 4, are “not too young to learn about giving back,” Nixon told PEOPLE this week at the launch of the Curél Lends a Helping Hand Campaign, which auctioned off celebrity hand prints to raise money for the American Red Cross.

“My children are being raised Jewish, so last year we all had a meeting with a rabbi, who said it’s good to let your children know what their parents values are,” said Nixon, 41.

Her focus? “I’m a very big public school advocate. I try to bring public awareness to increase funding,” said the actress, whose partner Christine Marinoni works for the Alliance for Quality Education. “My kids go to public school. I grew up here [in New York], went to public school, got a great education. It wasn’t a tough decision.”

While her daughter is “a very good writer,” she says, her son is “very into building and dinosaurs, that kind of thing” – and visiting mom on the set of Sex and the City: The Movie.

“If we’re shooting late on a Friday night, they’ll come by the set,” says Nixon, who is planning an on-set playdate for Charles and his pal, Sarah Jessica Parker‘s son James Wilkie. “They seem to be on set different days,” Nixon says. “But we talk to Charlie about James and James about Charlie, and one day we’ll figure it out so they can be there at the same time.”

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