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Volunteers are helping spread Christmas cheer by delivering thousands of meals to local families in need Thursday.

They started at 4:30 a.m. at Dominican University in River Forest, putting together prepared meals to deliver to the homes of 15,000 people in 45 communities throughout Chicago and the suburbs. In addition to delivering the meals, the volunteers also delivered 5,000 books to children with those meals.

According to the Christmas Cheer Foundation, the deliveries were done by noon so volunteers can enjoy the rest of Christmas with their loved ones.