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Jennifer Hudson's School Supply Giveaway Leads Some To Camp Out Overnight

By Wendell Hutson | August 14, 2013 3:56pm
 More than a 1,000 needy students showed up at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps. Community Center in West Pullman on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 for a free back-to-school supply giveaway by Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson.
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WEST PULLMAN — In an effort to get free school supplies Wednesday from Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, Tiffany Moore lined up with her daughter and seven nieces and nephews — at 1 a.m.

Moore was the first in line at the annual giveaway by The Julian D. King Gift Foundation, started by Hudson and her sister, Julia Hudson, who are both Englewood natives. The free giveaway began at 10 a.m. at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps. Community Center, 1250 W. 119th St.

"It was worth it," said Moore, a 32-year-old single mom from Auburn Gresham. " ... I wanted to make sure my kids got something because they need it. I think what Jennifer is doing is great.

"God bless her and her sister."

More than 1,000 needy children and parents came Wednesday looking for supplies and perhaps a chance to see or even meet Jennifer Hudson, who is starring in "Winnie Mandela," due out next month.

Alexis Cobb, a 32-year-old carpenter from Englewood, was second in line and had hoped to shake hands with the star of "Dreamgirls."

"When we went inside to get our supplies, we saw Julia but Jennifer was in the back somewhere although she did come out for a second to greet everyone," Cobb said.

Nicole Gonzalez, 52, who lives in Englewood, went to the event at 5:30 a.m. to get supplies for her two daughters, Aaliyah, 11, and Alize Carter, 9, who had attended Elaine Goodlow Elementary School in Englewood before it closed in June as part of the mass closing of 50 underutilized schools by Chicago Public Schools.

Jennifer Hudson attended Elihu Yale Elementary School, which was also closed.

"My concern is for their safety now that Goodlow is closed," Gonzalez said. "But then again, I'm glad the school closed because they were not learning at Goodlow."

Aaliyah said the long wait for supplies was worth it.

"My mom is a single parent and could use some help buying supplies," Aaliyah said. "If I could stand in another line to get more free supplies, I would do it."

Some families came from south suburban Evergreen Park to receive free school supplies.

"I got a book bag, pencils, paper, folders, pretty much a little of everything," said Shannon Sistrunk, 11, who arrived at 5:45 a.m. with her mother, Carmen, and 16-year-old brother, Naton Whitlock. "I'm glad my friends told us about this place. Where I live there are no free school supplies given away."

The foundation, which sponsors the event every year, is named in honor of Julian King, Julia's son, who was murdered at the family's Englewood home in 2008 along with Julia's 57-year-old mother, Darnell Donerson, and Hudson's 29-year-old brother Jason, by Julia's ex-husband, William Balfour. Balfour was sentenced in 2012 to life in prison by a Cook County judge.

Julia Hudson said Wednesday she hoped the family's home could be turned into a women's shelter.

This year's giveaway was held on Julian's birthday.

"My son would have turned 12 today," said Julia, who lives in South Shore. "I miss my baby so much."