Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson presided over a holiday toy drive at Chicago’s Navy Pier Wednesday in honor of Julian King, her 7-year-old nephew that was tragically murdered with her mother and brother in October 2008.
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The Windy City native, 29, said “that’s what makes me happy during the holiday season — just to see someone smile and clap or [be] excited, that makes my holiday.”
Julian’s mother Julia Hudson, who is Jennifer sister, said her late son “would have loved it.
“He always had toys. I would come home and see his bike down the street and say, ‘Why is your bike down the street?’ ‘Oh I gave it away.’ This would be right up his alley I think,” Julia said. “I know he’s smiling, something he would have done, exactly.”
The Dreamgirls star said the toy drive is “a good way to keep [Julian’s] memory alive by blessing other children through the holiday season. For us, we never had a sad Christmas, so we want to make other children’s Christmas be as enjoyable as ours were growing up.”
Jennifer said her infant son Daniel “makes [the holidays] that much better, too.
“He just brought it back around for us,” she said. “It’s just super exciting and a really, really good time.”
The svelte singer also sang “O Holy Night” at the toy drive, hitting the high notes with Mariah Carey-esque ease.
Hudson’s upcoming movie Winnie, a biopic about Nelson Mandela‘s wife which co-stars Terrence Howard, hits theaters next year.