Back to school can be expensive, which is why thousands of Chicago parents and children turned out Monday for free backpacks and school supplies courtesy of Chicago native Jennifer Hudson.
Hudson and her sister, Julia, handed out thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies to underprivileged families to give back on behalf of her late nephew Julian.
"It's just something to remember Julian, in his honor,” Hudson said.
Hudson and her sister Julia created what they call "Hatch Day" seven years ago. Hatch Day falls on Julian King's birthday. The 7-year-old boy who used the word "Hatch" as a metaphor for creating fun was murdered in 2008, along with Hudson’s brother and mother.
"He was a giving kid. My family--my mother was a giver. My brother was a giver, and Julian was also very into education, so that's why we want to give back in this way to help our children in this community. And help them have what they need so they can focus on school,” Hudson said.
As the event has grown each year, so have the donations, now including Girl Scout cookies, cupcakes and bags of toiletries.
The Hudson sisters grew up in Englewood and say they would like to see the foundation grow large enough to open a community center in that impoverished neighborhood.
"My grandmother used to tell us an idle mind is the devil's workshop. There's nothing in Englewood to do but to get into mischief. So if we could put something positive where they would come and have something to do, then we can keep them out of more trouble,” Hudson said.
Hudson is giving back to the community, and has found humanity in a tragedy.
"I was like 'I don't know how I'm going to be able to find a positive in this.' But the first thing I was like--I wanted my sister to be able to look forward to her son's birthday again,” Hudson said.
Julia Hudson, Jennifer’s sister, still drives a school bus in the community and says it warms her heart when she sees all the children with backpacks from 'Hatch Day' get on her bus.