Jennifer Hudson and her sister, Julia, are turning their tragic loss into hope for thousands of underprivileged kids in Chicago.
The siblings passed out school supplies to students on Sunday as a part of their annual Hatch Day event, held in collaboration with their charity, the Julian D. King Gift Foundation. The organization was created in honor of Jennifer's late nephew and Julia's fallen son, Julian King.
"I wanted my sister to look forward to her son's birthday," Hudson said, explaining the significance of the day.
Julian was murdered in October 2008 along with Jennifer's mother, Darnell Donerson, and her brother, Jason Hudson. The assailant, Julia's ex-husband, William Balfour, is currently serving three consecutive life sentences. Sunday would have marked Julian's 15th birthday.
"My mother always told me, 'What I love about you is no matter how negative things are, you always seem to find the positive,'" Jennifer said.
The family has put a positive spin on their day of mourning by continuing Julian's legacy of generosity.
"Julian was a scholar of a child," Jennifer shared. "He was a giver as well. Hatch Day represents everything about him."
The program was started six years ago in a church basement and has now grown to being able to help more than 5,000 children get ready for school.
"I had no idea what we were starting, and so to think back then to now, it's like, look at the seed we have planted!" Jennifer said.
"It means a lot to be able to help, to give back," Julia added.
In June, the sisters attended the unveiling of a Chicago street sign named in Julian's honor. The sign for Honorary Julian D. King Way was erected at 44th Street and Sacramento, near Julian's former school, Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy in the Windy City neighborhood Brighton Park.