Ashley Tisdale Designs a T-Shirt for a Cause That Hits Close to Home

Ashley Tisdale Designs a T-Shirt for a Cause That Hits Close to Home
Ashley Tisdale
All Access Photo/Splash News Online

09/11/2014 AT 01:05 PM EDT

Ashley Tisdale has been heavily involved with St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital ever since losing her grandfather last year.

"My [husband Christopher French] and I produced a song together for the passing of my grandfather, and I wanted to donate the proceeds to St. Jude," said the actress, 29. "We went to Memphis to visit the hospital, and having that experience and seeing the children, it was inspiring and beautiful."

Tisdale's tour of the hospital had an impact on her "from the moment I got there. The woman who gave us the tour was part of the hospital when she was younger. She had survived the cancer that she had as a 10-year-old. That in itself was amazing."

St. Jude treats many children who are battling cancer, a disease that has afflicted several people in the actress's life.

"I've had a couple of family members affected by cancer so it's very near to my heart," says Tisdale. "My aunt Peggy passed a few months ago, and my grandmother thankfully survived breast cancer. It's really scary. If I can do anything to help spread the word and spread awareness, I will."

Tisdale's latest effort to spread awareness and raise funds for St. Jude comes in the form of a T-shirt. She, along with Camilla Belle and Lily Aldridge, designed a tee for September's Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The "Join the Fight" tee to end childhood cancer is now available at Velvet boutiques, and Revolve Clothing, with proceeds benefiting the hospital.

"I had never designed a T-shirt before so I was really excited about it!" she said.

As for who motivates her to give back, Tisdale gives credit to her new husband, musician French.

"He has inspired me over the past two years with all the stuff he does. He's very giving."

For more of our interview with Tisdale, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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