Mom of 5 Donates Earnings From Part-Time Job to Fight Malaria: 'These People are Dying and it's Preventable'
Monica Kleman tells PEOPLE that she has given more than $1,000 to a malaria-battling charity
One Ohio mom is taking holiday giving to a whole new level.
Monica Kleman, a 37-year-old stay-at-home mom, recently took a part-time job at a local department store and decided to donate all her earnings to an organization that fights malaria.
Kleman of Ottawa, tells PEOPLE that she got the idea after seeing a video about Malaria in sub-Saharan Africa at her church. She says the fact that most malaria cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa really moved her.
“It’s two-fold. The other part I heard is that it’s 100 percent preventable,” Kleman says of the life-threatening disease. “These people are dying and it’s preventable – it’s treatable! We know what to do to get rid of it. It bothered me so much.”
So, she got a part-time job at the Elder-Beerman department store, vowing to give every cent of every paycheck to Imagine No Malaria, an organization that fights malaria and works to prevent new cases through bed nets, medicine, health facilities and education.
“The majority of my job is unloading merchandise and getting it out to the sales floor,” Kleman tells PEOPLE. “I only make $8.25 an hour. Each net is $10 and $10 saves a life because 10 bucks can buy a net.
She adds, “So, I try to think in my head, ‘just about every hour I work is a net.’ ”
Kleman says she began the seasonal job in November and has already surpassed her goal.
“I’ve given over a thousand dollars and a thousand dollars was my big goal, so I’ve already passed it and that makes me happy,” she says, noting that she works an average of 20 hours per week.
She says she’s been keeping up with the organization’s progress is excited to be a part of every advancement.
“When Imagine No Malaria started, someone died every 30 seconds, then this last year, it was every minute – well, just last week, the WHO realized that it s now two minutes. So the clock is turning back and that’s what’s making me so excited. These nets work. They make a real difference. It’s clinics, it’s education, it’s medicine. Money can stop this. Nets and clinics can stop this.”
While she’s away at work, her eldest daughter watches the other children and a babysitter sometimes helps out, she says. But Kleman’s generosity has not gone unnoticed by her children.
Her four older children have asked her to donate a net in place of one of their Christmas gifts. And the kids donate whatever money they can.
Kleman’s husband, Jay, told the Putnam County Sentinel that he is not surprised by his wife’s generosity.
“She has a big heart and it just makes me realize how lucky I am to have her,” he told the publication.
She and Jay have one biological daughter, four adoptive children and are in the process of adopting their sixth child.
She says her 14-year-old son told her that her generous effort reminds him of one of his idols.
“He goes, ‘Mom did you know every time [Stephen]Curry makes a three-pointer he donates three nets for malaria?!’ ” she said of her son.
“I didn’t know that so it’s pretty cool that he’s getting this from his idol, and then he’s getting it from mom,” she says.