Katie Lowes wants to bring the magic of movies to those who need it most.
The Scandal star has been a working as a volunteer with the Lollipop Theater Network for the past four years, which organizes the screenings of movies currently in theaters for children confined to hospitals due to chronic or life-threatening illnesses.
“Movies provide very wonderful ways to escape while you watch them, and these kids need that more than anyone,” Lowes tells PEOPLE. “They need to be able to laugh and go on a journey.
But it wouldn’t be a true movie screening without the full Hollywood treatment – which Lowes says they are happy to provide.
“We roll out the red carpet, we do popcorn and sometimes we even help them get ready with hair and makeup. We want to make it feel like a real premiere. It’s all about making the kids feel good,” she says.
Along with helping to facilitate the screening, Lowes also goes into the hospitals to attend the premieres and meet with kids and their families. She has even been able to enlist a few of her A-list pals to get in on the fun, including NYU classmate Bryce Dallas Howard and Scandal costar Guillermo Déaz, recently participated in a hospital visit.
“The kids really respond to it. It’s just really fun when actors come in and give them a real boost of energy and a real change of pace. It’s not only helpful for the children but for the parents and siblings going through very hard times,” says Lowes, 34.
The actress shares that connecting with kids on a personal level was one of her reasons for getting involved with the organization.
“I was a nanny for six years before I started working on Scandal, and I’ve always felt a major connection to kids and I’ve always been able to make them laugh,” she says. “To me, this is the perfect combination of two things I really love.”
So what does she talk to the kids about? All the best Hollywood gossip, of course.
“When I go into a teenager’s room, they may be sick, but they are still into very normal teenage stuff – like who is Justin Bieber dating and If I’ve ever met Selena Gomez or what celebrities are like in real life,” she says. “And I’m more than happy to comply! That to me is the most fun because we all just end up laughing.”
On Wednesday, the Lollipop Theater is asking existing and new supporters to post a picture of themselves in their specially designed lollipop T-shirts on social media. To purchase a shirt, click here – all proceeds go to Lollipop s programming.