CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) - There was star power on the South Side Wednesday as thousands of students received backpacks full of back-to-school goodies.
Academy and Grammy award winner Jennifer Hudson co-hosted the ninth annual "Hatch Day" event with her sister Julia.
It has been almost 11 years since Hudson's nephew Julian was murdered in Chicago. Every day on his birthday, Hudson and her sister, who was Julian's mother, throw a huge party for Chicago kids.
"It's been a healing process for us and we love seeing family and friends in Chicago, our hometown, come together in positivity," Hudson said.
From tragedy, Hatch Day was born. In 2008, Hudson's mother, brother and nephew, Julian, were shot to death. Hudson's brother-in-law was sentenced to life without parole for the murders.
To celebrate the hope the Hudson sisters have for Chicago youth, Hatch Day provides backpacks and supplies to get the school year started off right.
"Here in our city, so often only the negative get acknowledged and even in our country. So we want the children to know we're watching, the Hudson sisters are watching ya'll and we are rooting you on," Hudson said.
This year, designer Vera Bradley donated the backpacks.
Volunteers and the Hudson sisters wore T-shirts wishing Julian what would have been a happy 18th birthday. There was even a cake.
"Of course it's always bittersweet, you know, whenever you have a loss, especially a loss so great," Julia Hudson said.
The foundation in Julian's name also hosts a Christmas dinner and toy drive for Chicago kids.