Jennifer Hudson honors slain family members with eighth annual Hatch Day: 'It's about healing' (Exclusive)

One decade after losing her mother, brother and nephew to senseless gun violence in her hometown of Chicago, Jennifer Hudson continues to honor their lives by giving back through the Julian D. King Gift Foundation.

Named after her late nephew, the foundation was created by Jennifer and her sister, Julian's mother, Julia, back in 2008 after their murders, and it has since served thousands of youth in the Chicago area through Hatch Day, an event held on Julian's birthday, August 14, providing school supplies for the upcoming school year.

AOL caught up with Hudson on this year's eighth annual Hatch Day, held on what would've been Julian's 17th birthday, where she explained that the day of giving grew out of a choice that she made 10 years ago when she lost her family members.

"Obviously, these are things you can't predict. You don't choose tragedy. It just happens. But, how you decide to come back and heal from tragedy is a choice," Hudson explained. "What better way to kill negativity than through positivity? That's the way that we've chosen to go about it. It's about healing."

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Jennifer Hudson out and about
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15: Chicago native Jennifer Hudson participates in an end of school year peace march and rally on June 15, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Chance the Rapper, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords were also guests at the rally. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15: Chicago native Jennifer Hudson participates in an end of school year peace march and rally on June 15, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Chance the Rapper, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords were also guests at the rally. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Live Finale' Episode 1419B -- Pictured: Jennifer Hudson -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 09: Jennifer Hudson is seen arriving for her 'A Mother's Gift' Benefiting The Julian D. King Gift Foundation at Mayne Stage on May 10, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Matthew Sperzel/Getty Images)
BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND - APRIL 05: Jennifer Hudson attends the pre-final event for 'The Voice' at Elstree Studios on April 5, 2018 in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: (L-R) Edna Chavez, Zion Kelly, Jennifer Hudson, Emma Gonzalez and Naomi Wadler pose onstage at March For Our Lives on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for March For Our Lives)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: Jennifer Hudson sings at the March for Our Lives Rally on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)
The Voice UK coach Jennifer Hudson at a BUILD event at Shropshire House, London. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: (L-R) will.i.am, Jennifer Hudson and Tom Jones during a BUILD panel discussion on March 8, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Singer/actress Jennifer Hudson attends Women's Cancer Research Fund's An Unforgettable Evening Benefit Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 27, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21: *** EDITORIAL USE ONLY IN RELATION TO THE BRIT AWARDS 2018 *** Jennifer Hudson attends The BRIT Awards 2018 held at The O2 Arena on February 21, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 27: Jennifer Hudson arrives at the Clive Davis and Recording Academy Pre-GRAMMY Gala on January 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Granitz/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03: Jennifer Hudson attends The Voice UK Launch photocall at Ham Yard Hotel on January 3, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
THE VOICE -- 'Live Semi Finals' Episode 1320A -- Pictured: Jennifer Hudson -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Live Top 11' Episode 1318B -- Pictured: Jennifer Hudson -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Live Top 12' Episode 1317B -- Pictured: Jennifer Hudson -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Live Top 12' Episode 1317A -- Pictured: Jennifer Hudson -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09: Jennifer Hudson arriving at the ITV Gala held at the London Palladium on November 9, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
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And the Julian D. King Gift Foundation is the best possible way for the Hudson sisters to honor all three of their late family members, as the organization's causes are a direct reflection of what her family stands for as a whole.

"When you lose family, you want to honor them in the way that they lived, and Julian was really into education and he was always reading a book," she said with a smile. "He even called himself Doctor King. That was what inspired this. At the same time, I wanted to have something that was in honor of our entire family. We come from an extremely giving background, so the best way to do that is just take care of your home. Chicago is our home, it’s our city and we do it for them."

What makes Hatch Day all the more special and impactful for Hudson is the way in which it has turned Julian's birthday into an annual celebration of his life, as opposed to a dark reminder of how his family lost him. It's a distinction that is most important for Jennifer's sister, Julia, who the singer told us is the true driving force behind Hatch Day each and every year.

"The project is her baby. The foundation is her baby and it’s dedicated to her baby, her son. That’s what inspired me to start it, because I always wanted her to be able to look forward to his birthdays," Jennifer explained to AOL. "When you lose family, you dread the birthdays and the holidays without them. What my mother always used to say to me was, ‘Jenny, what I love about you is that, even when things are negative, you always try to find a positive.’ And in this case, I didn’t know how to find a positive, but my goal was for my sister to be able to look forward to her son’s birthday again."

"I knew when it got to the point where she was counting down to his birthday then I know I’ll have succeeded," she added. "And now she counts down. And I was like, 'Yes! it worked!' It can’t completely fill the void, but it helps. And for her to see how many children are being blessed, because of her one child is healing for her and it’s healing for all of us."

Find out more about the Julian D. King Gift Foundation here.

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