"I love the community in New York. I love New Yorkers," the actress tells PEOPLE

By Emily Strohm
Updated February 19, 2014 05:00 PM
Michael Simon/Startraks

Katie Holmes is in love – with the Big Apple!

“I love the community in New York. I love New Yorkers. I ran into someone on the street the other day that I went to high school with,” Holmes says. “I love the moments of spontaneity every day.”

Since splitting from husband Tom Cruise in July of 2012, Holmes, 35, and daughter Suri, 7½, have called Manhattan home.

“New York has been very good to both of us,” she says. “I love the theater, the galleries in my neighborhood. Stuff [like] that is so much of what makes me love this city. I love the Knicks. I love talking to my neighbors in the elevator. I like feeling a part of something big.”

One project that’s definitely big for Holmes? Her commitment to the fight against breast cancer. The actress is teaming up with Kohl’s department stores to encourage women to start a conversation about breast health in an effort to confront what she calls the “pink elephant in the room.”

“I’ve known a lot of people who have been diagnosed and women tend to take care of everyone else before our own needs,” Holmes says. “Becoming a parent made me much more aware of my own health. I want to be there for my child for a long time.”

Beginning Feb. 18 through March 8, Kohl’s will donate $1 to Komen, a breast cancer organization, for every pink Kohl’s Cash coupon redeemed. That adds up to a minimum of $100,000 up to $1 million.

The department store is also selling pink elephant necklaces from the LC Lauren Conrad collection, beginning Feb. 19, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward the fight against breast cancer through Kohl’s Cares, the company’s philanthropic platform.

“Hopefully it will cause women to have the conversation and really support each other through prevention,” Holmes says of her efforts. “It affects one in eight women and anything I can do to help I’m on board with.”