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Portland 7-year-old spends years saving allowance up to $500, then donates it to help families in need

Wesley Malokas has had a "helping jar" for several years. He decided it was time to use it to help those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

PORTLAND, Ore. — It’s easy to see why P.J. Malokas is proud of his son, Wesley. 

“Wesley’s a great kid. He does the right things, he’s calm, he’s helpful…he cares about people,” he said.

It’s also easy to see that Wesley is proud of his Lego collection, which he was eager to show off. But his building experience doesn’t stop with the archenemy of bare feet. He’s teamed up with some experts that want to put a roof over every head.

“We need to continue to help folks get into a stable home so they can get through a storm like this,” said Steve Messinetti, president and CEO of the Portland/Metro East affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. 

He says they simply can’t do their work without donations of time and money.

“These are homes for families that don’t have a good place to shelter right now as we all shelter in place and many of them are frontline workers,” Messinetti said.

The Malokas family realizes the importance of housing these days as well. 

“Housing is something that is critical for everybody and in this moment,” P.J. said. "We thought it was really, really important and we wanted to take the time and sort of instill a sense of community and service with Wesley and hopefully we can inspire others to do the same thing.”

Wesley may not be building homes, but with the help of his parents, some money he’s saved will help make a big impact for others—with his “helping jar.” 

“As soon as we started giving an allowance, we started to set aside. We do 30% for saving, 30% for helping and 40% for spending for toys and games and things like that,” said P.J.

“This wasn’t just a few pennies from a jar,” Messinetti said. “It was $500 that he saved up over many years.” 

Those $500 were matched by his parents, and then that donation was matched by local businesses. 

“Habitat provides quality homes to people in need, and we just think it’s a really important mission all the time and really more so right now,” P.J. said.

“It gives us hope that we will get through this crisis together, and maybe even come out stronger,” added Messinetti.

Thanks to a small helping jar, that will help pour a strong foundation for those who need it most.

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