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Military father makes it his passion to help troops

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- When a Milwaukee father was separated from his daughter by war, he worked to bring her the comforts of home -- and that passion to parent turned into a mission to support all military members.

If you had to fit your life into a 12-by-12 box, what are the essentials?

That's a question Jeffery Bukowski asked himself 10 years ago when his daughter was deployed to Iraq.

"Shaving cream, deodorant, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes -- got some beef jerky, bubble gum," Bukowski said.

Even the smallest thing made the biggest difference.

"When she was told she was deploying, big knot in my chest and it stayed there and when I came up with this idea it actually helped me cope with it," Bukowski said.

Bukowski's living room operation turned into Wisconsin We Care -- a non-profit serving hundreds of deployed troops.

"It just multiplied.  Somebody in the unit would tell their mom that this guy is sending packages to our unit and I`d get an email from the mom saying `here`s my son`s name -- put him on the list` and it just kept going and going and going," Bukowski said.

Ten years and 14,000 boxes later, Bukowski's mission has not changed. He has joined forces with "Honor Our Military" and continues to send out packages every two weeks. However, the donations are dwindling.

"Right now we`re at a very, very low stage and it`s -- people have forgotten.  Iraq is over. The war is winding down, but there`s a lot of people over there," Bukowski said.

Non-perishable food, socks and batteries are the top three needs on Bukowski's list.

"We don`t get nothing out of it other than thank you letters and stuff.  The letters actually tell you that it makes a difference.  They appreciate it," Bukowski said.

If you'd like to help Bukowski, he is hosting a chili cookoff on Saturday, November 16th from noon to 5:00 p.m. at the Marion Center.

Bukowski is accepting competitors through Saturday -- and folks can show up on Saturday with $10 to taste test and vote.

CLICK HERE to visit "Honor Our Military's" website for additional information.

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