By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s the time of year for giving — and battling brutal temperatures.

That is why outside Catholic Charities Higher Ground on Dorothy Day Place, one group was handing gifts that warm the soul and the body on Christmas Eve.

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Heather Cook, along with family and friends, created a new Christmas tradition of giving back.

“We had over 70-some hats and gloves, along with scarves. We had pants and shoes and jackets, all donated,” Cook said.

They also made dozens of ham sandwiches, and bought cases of water to hand out to the homeless and people in need.

“People are down and out, and anything we can do just a little bit to help brighten their day and keep them warm, it’s definitely worth it,” she said.

Catholic Charities workers said they expect their St. Paul shelter to be at capacity overnight, which they say is typical during winter.

(credit: CBS)

But they expect their overflow room to also fill up ahead of the coldest day of the season.

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Temperatures on Christmas Day are projected to hover around zero degrees, with the wind chill make it feel more like minus 20. It is on pace to be one of the coldest Christmas days in 21 years.

“We are blessed enough to have a home and food and everything to ourselves, and we want to make sure that we can give back to the community on Christmas,” Cook said.

Meanwhile on the streets of Uptown in Minneapolis, the bitter chill and waning hours of the day had people quickly looking for last minute gifts at stores.

Abdi Asaccer and several others walked up to the H & M clothing store, but despite the lights on inside, they were met with disappointment.

“They’re closed!” Asaccer said.

Most stores in the area closed at 6 p.m. or earlier, leaving people not much to do but prepare for a frigid holiday.

And in the case of those gracious group outside Catholic Charities, prepare for the giving season in 2018.

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“We’re going to be back again,” Cook said. “We’re planning on next year being bigger and better.”

Jeff Wagner