CHICAGO (CBS) — Hundreds of students lined up Monday at the Salvation Army Kroc Center to get free school supplies, backpacks and health checkups as part of the annual Hatch Day in honor of Jennifer Hudson’s nephew Julian.
“It’s good to be home especially on this day. I rarely get to be home so this is a perfect way to be home,” said Hudson.
The Julian D. King Gift Foundation was founded in honor of Hudson’s nephew Julian King. The organization is celebrating Hatch Day, something Julian created as a child.
“We started with Christmas and bought and gave away toys. Then we decided we wanted to do something more, something different so we decided to give away school supplies. Julian loved to learn, loved to teach, loved to share. We thought we’d give out school supplies in honor of his birthday which is right before school. It helps to give children a chance. If they can go to school, have their book bag, their supplies, they can focus on learning because they have the supplies they need,” said Julia Hudson, Julian’s mother.
Julian would’ve turned 16 on Monday. The Hudsons say the event is always met with mixed emotions.
“Tears are definitely going to come on this day. It’s to be expected. It’s a part of it but it’s bittersweet,” Jennifer Hudson said.
She said her son is with her and he’s learning about his family and giving back.
“It’s good to have him be around it and to have him grow up and learn about helping out. It’s not always about getting but giving. He came and volunteered to help put things together. He’s learning of his family and about the legacy of my mom, my brother and my nephew. We come from a very giving family and this is a huge part of it and this is our way of honoring them.”
Julian King was killed in October 2008, along with Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, and her brother, Jason Hudson.
William Balfour, the former husband of Julia Hudson, was convicted of the murders, and is serving three consecutive life sentences.
“Hatch Day,” which began in a church basement, now helps more than 5,000 students get ready for school.
This story has been corrected to clarify that Balfour is not Julian King’s father; but was Jennifer Hudson’s brother-in-law, and Julia Hudson’s estranged husband.