Julian King would often take paper, crayons and other materials and make invitations that he distributed to his family and friends. He would then ask his family for a cake; his godmother would bake him one.

Julian King would often take paper, crayons and other materials and make invitations that he distributed to his family and friends. He would then ask his family for a cake; his godmother would bake him one.

He called it a “hatch day” party and in honor of his spirit of giving and fellowship, his mother and aunt launched the special day in his memory.

The then 7-year-old was found in the trunk of a car Oct. 27, 2008 shot to death after his grandmother and uncle had been slain days before at the family’s South Side home.

King would have been 10 years old on Aug. 14, the day sisters Julia and Jennifer Hudson held the inaugural Hatch Day event at De La Salle Institute, 3434 S. Michigan.

Hundreds of kids filed into the school’s gymnasium where they were greeted by oversized photos of Julian fixed to easels, and treated to free backpacks school supplies, Jennifer Hudson’s music playing in the background and, of course cupcakes.

The Hudson sisters partnered with the Benton, Ark.-based retail giant Walmart to make the event possible.

“What is Hatch Day? We still don’t know,” Jennifer Hudson told the Defender with a chuckle. Still, “this is our way of giving him his Hatch Day.”

Though they can’t explain the boy’s imaginary event, they are clear on the spirit of what Julian was trying to do.

“Julian was not your typical child,” his mother, Julia, said. “Julian was all about education. His mouth literally would water when he was learning, and he loved to teach.”

Julia said her son helped to teach several of his relatives to read. She noted how much of a stickler for learning her child was.

“He even changed his bedtime one time to an hour earlier so he wouldn’t be tired for school,” Julia said.

His desire to share was infectious.

“This is just his character spilling out into the community,” Jennifer said of her family’s decision to host Hatch Day and give away school supplies.

The event is another community outreach by the Julian King Foundation, started by Jennifer Hudson. The sisters said working through the foundation helps them to deal with the devastation of that fateful Oct. 24, 2008 day when they lost their mother, Darnell Donerson, and brother, Jason Hudson, to gun violence.

“It’s very healing and helpful,” Jennifer said of working with the foundation. The foundation is “definitely a healing tool.” She said big hearts and generosity ran rampant in her family. Giving was what the Hudsons knew to do, Jennifer said.

“My brother would barbecue for the whole neighborhood. Me, I love, through my music and what I do, to bring people around,” the Academy Award-winning actress said, pointing out that her whole family “loves giving.”

Birthdays and holidays are a bit easier to endure without their mother, brother and Julian, both women agreed, because of the work they are able to do through their Julian King Foundation.

“It’s times when it’s like ‘oh goodness their birthdays are coming up,’” Jennifer said. “But … we can look forward to them now … and still celebrate them in a positive way.

Hatch Day and other works through the foundation help them not only honor the spirit of their deceased loved ones, but to make them proud.

“My mother always taught us that without family, you have nothing. That’s the way we get to make sure her memory lives on and that she’s happy and pleased with us knowing that we’re still pushing on, we’re still together,” said Jennifer, now a mother herself.

Julia shake’s her head as she talks about the senseless gun violence that continues to claim lives – especially children’s.

“It’s sad. Something needs to happen. It has to be something that we can do to get to these people to make them see this is senseless, this is stupid,” Julia said.

Julia said after the killings she left. For a brief time she was in Florida, but she longed for home — Chicago.

“I left (Florida). I said I have to go home because I felt that that would help my healing process,” Julia said.

“What brought us back is this is home,” Jennifer

She explained that she wanted her son to have the same familial closeness she grew up with because that has made all the difference in her life.

“That’s what keeps us going, our faith in God and the strength in our family,” Hudson said.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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