CHICAGO (CBS) — This time of year, kids cheer for Santa, but they were cheering for someone else Monday.

Chicago native Jennifer Hudson drove the children wild by handing out thousands of toys, CBS 2’s Chris Martinez reports.

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The singer-actress and her sister Julia Hudson’s Christmas toy drive and giveaway started as a tribute to Julia’s son, Julian, who was killed four years ago with the girls’ mother and brother.


The Hudson sisters say they were inspired by Julian’s giving spirit. They collect and distribute tens of thousands of toys to children like Jalisa Johnson.

The first in line since 3 a.m., the 8-year-old was first to pick out a toy.

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“I want to say thank you,” the girl told reporters.

Without the Hudson sisters’ effort, the family wouldn’t have a Christmas, Jalisa’s mother, Nicole, said.

“To be able to bless people with your blessings — that’s the blessing of it all,” Jennifer Hudson said.

The sisters estimate they collected or bought between 40,000 to 50,000 toys.

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And they handed out every last one.