Jennifer Hudson Says Her Late Mom Is Her 'Role Model' for Giving Back: It's 'How We Were Raised'

The singer recently opened up to PEOPLE about spending the holiday season giving back to those in need through her Julian D. King Gift Foundation

Jennifer Hudson
Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty

Jennifer Hudson has a lot in store for the holidays.

As a "holiday fanatic" (she's one of PEOPLE's certified "Queens of Christmas!") the singer is spending this season giving back, and recently spoke to PEOPLE about raising money for local communities in need. She said making giving the center of her holidays is something that's been a part of "who she is" thanks to how she was raised.

"It's such a natural thing to myself," she says of it being part of her upbringing. "I think I would have to give that credit to my mother, which is what encouraged me to start the Julian D. King Gift Foundation, because we come from a family of givers."

The Julian D. King Gift Foundation — which holds a number of events annually in Chicago to help children of all backgrounds — was created in honor of Hudson's late nephew, who was killed in 2008 along with her mother and brother.

The singer says that her mother's influence is what inspires her to "take care of family."

"She used to say, without family, you have nothing. Chicago is my family. Chicago is my home," Hudson explains. "And so to look for a role model I don't have to look far: That's who we are and how we were raised."

Jennifer Hudson
Kendra Scott's Giving Gives On Campaign

She says her 12-year-old son David shares the same values. "I asked him the other day, what do you want for Christmas? And he was like 'I don't know,' but yet he asked all his cousins and friends, what's on your Christmas wish list?" the Respect star says. "We can't wait to come together as a family ... to see people have good times and enjoy this holiday season."

Hudson will continue her efforts as she kicks off her partnership with jewelry designer Kendra Scott's "Giving Gives On" campaign. Kendra Scott is aiming to raise $100,000 for charities including Hudson's between Dec. 1 and Dec. 12 through initiatives including donating 20% of sales from the actress' fave item, the Madelyn statement earring.

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"The fact that Kendra Scott is pledging to raise $100k in 12 days ... That's a dope concept to be able to not only have, but make a point to give, especially during a time like this," Hudson says. "That's what it's about for me. I'm a giver and I'm a holiday fanatic. So I thought it was the perfect combination."

Hudson tells PEOPLE that the partnership is "the perfect way" to "bless more people" throughout the year — and hopefully expand the Julian D. King Gift Foundation beyond the Chicago area.

"You know, it started out in my hometown, because it is my hometown. But we love all children, and everyone. So any way we can get out there to expand it, the better," she says. "I don't do anything that I'm not passionate about, you know, so if I'm going to do it, I'm in it completely."

And that passion translates into Hudson's career as she looks for her next projects since snagging two Grammy nominations for her music in the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect. The singer says she's speaking her "wish list of 2022" into existence, hoping to release more music and get involved in even more films.

"I would love to work with Nicole Kidman. I would love to work with Denzel Washington. And I would love to sing with Jamie Foxx," she says. "That's all on my wish list of 2022."

"I'm looking forward to that, you know, all the things I love," she adds, noting the constant inspiration she gets from those around her. "You'll forever win when you do what you love. And that's what I just try to simply lead with."

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