Interview with Ms. Kirk (leader of PLOP)


Reuben Ezulike and Emma Marx

We interviewed Ms. Kirk, the advisor of the PLOP Peer Leader group, about her charity work, helping the community, and what charity means to her.

Q: What or who inspired you to do your amazing charity work?

A: I have to give credit to my parents and family for that. We did not have a great deal of money when I was growing up, but we had what we needed. My parents somehow always found a way to reach out and help people who were not as fortunate as my family. It was just the way I was raised – small kindnesses can really change people’s lives. I was also always taught to be a voice for those who may be voiceless – something I strive to do everyday.

Q: If you weren’t a teacher, could you see yourself becoming someone who helps people by traveling, working, etc?

A: Those who know me, know that I have a special affinity for all animals. I could definitely see myself advocating for animal welfare. If I hit the lottery, I would love to open an animal sanctuary for animals that have been abandoned and/or abused. I think I would benefit more than the animals – I would love it. Throw in Italy as the location and that is my heaven.

Q: Has your opinion on helping others changed since you started to run PLOP?

A: I always knew that I, as one person, could help change lives, but my work with the PLOP Peer Leaders has really opened my eyes to the magnitude of change that can occur when one person becomes two, and two become four, and so on. It may not look like much when we make one Candy Gram or one candy cane sale individually, but the totality of that can be amazing. Candy Cane sales raise an average of $1500 -$2,000 a year. This money provides transportation for about a dozen children to get life-altering facial plastic surgery. We are directly changing the lives of 12 children – one candy cane at a time. That is pretty awesome and humbling.

Q: How long have you been running PLOP?

A: I believe this is my 7th year as the PLOP advisor.

Q: How has being an educator influenced your views on charities and charity work?

A: Being an educator has given me the opportunity to share my passion for charity work with students, setting them up to continue that work as they make their way through school and into adulthood. As an educator, I am also an advocate for all children, a group in our society that often does not have a voice. It is my obligation, ethically and professionally, to be that voice. My work with the dedicated students in PLOP can help those voiceless children locally and all over the world.

Q: How has working with students on charity work differed from working with adults on charity work?

A: Students bring a very special energy to everything they touch. It is one of the things I love most about teaching – that exchange of energy. For some students, being a part of PLOP may be the first time they have been exposed to the true struggles of others – I get to see my Peer Leaders internalize that discovery – it is a gamechanger.  I love to watch students develop and grow their humanitarian sides – hopefully, something that stays with them for the rest of their lives.

Q: MMS is a big supporter of charities and nonprofits such as Operation Smile, Make a Wish, and Heifer international. How do you choose a charity to support and which charities stick out more than others?

A: MMS has been supporting Operation Smile, HEIFER, and Make-a-Wish for many years. Some were chosen because of personal connections, and we of course look for charities that touch the lives of children throughout the world. We also choose the charities we support very carefully based upon their effectiveness in getting the funds to the recipients in need. The “best” charities are the ones that keep operating costs low (salaries, advertising, etc.) in order to ensure that the bulk of the money donated actually gets used for those in most need.