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Top of the Morning, Jan. 9, 2024

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Hub Burnett's latest outreach program — Hood II Hood — is set to open in February. Fittingly, it's headquartered next door to his Suits by Soouljah business on Bradley Avenue in Champaign, where his door swings open for much more than shopping.

"I've been doing this in my shop for 10 years. I'm just formalizing it right now so we can target the kids who are out doing the shooting," said Burnett, also pastor at Champaign's New Free Will Baptist. "I've been out there doing this with a fishing pole. Now, I'll be doing it with a net."

On Sunday, Burnett will receive the Doris Hoskins Prestigious Community Service Award at the 2024 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Countywide Celebration at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Marco Price (James R. Burgess Jr./Susan Freiburg Humanitarian Award) and Minnie Pearson (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Outstanding Achievement Award) also will be honored.

We'll have more on Hood II Hood closer to opening day as it involves a handful of community difference-makers. It's named after a book written by Burnett's late brother, James: "Hood II Hood: Helping Prisoners Transition to Freedom."

The vision board shows three men, including former Illini basketball player Joe Cross — now teaching at the UI — and his father, Daniel, a longtime educator in southern Illinois who is enjoying retirement. "I wanted to show these kids a picture of what success looks like," Burnett said. "That's Joe's dad hooding him."

Above the Cross men: "That's the guy who we're trying to save," Burnett said. "The one with a hoodie on in 100 degrees."