WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — State officials have launched their annual holiday gift drive for troops serving overseas.

Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts again organized the effort, called Operation Holiday Cheer, which puts together around 350 care packages for troops during the holiday season.

She was joined on Wednesday by Maj. Gen. Kevin McBride, adjutant general of the Rhode Island National Guard, to launch this year's drive. The guard's Family Assistance Center, the U.S. Postal Service and the Rhode Island chapter of the American Red Cross also help to organize the program.

Roberts said the effort allows people to let service members know "they are in our thoughts and prayers" and "express our deep appreciation for their service."

The program relies on donations of cash and other goods from people and businesses. Volunteers collect items, then pack and ship them in November.

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