Chicago’s Dreamgirl Jennifer Hudson and her sister Julia Hudson blessed hundreds of children this Christmas at Navy Pier’s “Winter Wonderfest” with thousands of Christmas gifts.

Through the Julian King Foundation, in honor of her late nephew and son of Julia, the singer-actress started the annual toy drive. An estimated 4,000 gifts were handed out to over 600 selected children from the Abraham Lincoln Center and other organizations.

“This is the first year with the Abraham Lincoln Center, but this is the third year of the Julian King toy drive. We decided to team up with the Abraham Lincoln Center and WGN to basically make Christmas that much greater for all the children out there—for as many kids as we could touch that’s possible,” Hudson told the Defender.

The sisters’ mother Darnell Donerson, 57, brother Jason Hudson, 29, and 7-year-old nephew were murdered in October 2008.

It was her desire to give to those who have less. She didn’t want a child left without a toy this Christmas, she said.

“It’s amazing. We just moved back to Chicago at the same time and now it’s the holiday season so it’s like Chicago has never been so good; we really love it,” said the award-winning actress.

Hudson was ecstatic to be back home and very excited to bless so many people’s lives. While posing for photos, she said, “I’m so excited that I don’t know what to do with myself.”

The toy giveaway wasn’t the only highlight of the event.


The crowd was also treated to a solo by Hudson, “Oh Holy Night,” and watched dancers from the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center and listened to Walt Whitman’s Soul Children of Chicago.


Wanda Ellis, mother of two, came to the toy drive with her children. She was grateful that her children were chosen and she thanks God for what she calls a blessing.

“All I can say is it’s wonderful and this is a blessing because you know I feel so grateful. This year I would not have been able to give much. For us to come out and get one extra toy, well this was a blessing for many,” said Ellis.


Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender


(Defender/Roshawn Allen)

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