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Jennifer Hudson Helps Schoolchildren In Honor Of Late Nephew

UPDATED 08/14/12 - 5:20 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The slain nephew of actress-singer Jennifer Hudson, who would have turned 11 Tuesday, is being remembered with a giveaway of school supplies for thousands.

As WBBM Newsradio's John Cody reports, Jennifer Hudson was joined by her sister, Julia – Julian's mother – at their second annual Hatch Day celebration at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, 1250 W. 119th St.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's John Cody reports


They donated school supplies to 5,000 low-income Chicago school students.

"It's thoughtful of Jennifer Hudson to do this for the community," said graduating high school senior Carsi Barnes, who picked up all the school supplies he needs – backpack, paper, binders, calculator – from the long line snaking through the Kroc Center.

King was also honored with a mayoral proclamation declaring Aug. 14 to be Julian King Day in Chicago.

Jennifer Hudson could not hold back tears as a mayoral aide read the proclamation. She spoke with CBS 2's Derrick Blakley about the significance of the event.

"Oh my God, it's just overwhelming. It's good tears. It's beautiful tears. We just started this last year. This is the second year, and to have a vision, and then to see it manifest.

Hatch Day is a name that Julian dreamed up for his own birthday. It was his idea to have a birthday celebration where he would give out gifts, instead of receiving them. He used to make and give invitations to family and friends for his holiday, to help hatch the dreams of school-age children like himself.

Julian was shot and killed on Oct. 24, 2008, along with Jennifer and Julia Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57; and brother, Jason Hudson, 29.

Julia Hudson's estranged husband, William Balfour, was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison last month for the murders.

Jennifer and Julia Hudson were both in court for virtually every moment of the 13-day trial.

Jennifer Hudson said it was important to be there every day, because "my mother would have been there. So, I had to be there every step of the way. Both of us did. She never missed a beat, and to honor them, and to do what we were taught to do, what we saw as an example growing up, that was the only thing to be done, was to be there. So, nothing else mattered. We had to be there."

The sisters also want to turn the home where their mother and brother were killed into a shelter for single mothers and children.

"We would want a transitional house, where they come and stay, and we help them get on their feet," Julia Hudson said.

Asked if things have started returning to normal for her, Jennifer Hudson said, "I feel as though we have a new beginning, and it's beautiful. You know, we're still blessed, and I mean we've had our loss, but we're finding our way."

The Hudson sisters said it gives them joy to find ways to turn their personal tragedy into blessings for others.

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