Organizes school-wide fundraiser to benefit nonprofit
By Meagan McGone
BREVARD - At her ninth birthday party, Sydney Novak did not want any gifts - for herself, at least.
Instead, the Viera resident and student at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne asked for each attendee to bring toys, money and food to donate to the humane society.
"It felt great to do that," she said. "And then I felt like sharing that feeling with my school."
So in April, Sydney, who is now 11, gathered three of her closest friends and her 6-year-old sister, Briegan, and set out on a mission. The five girls decorated 18 shoeboxes with the goal of filling them with loose change that filled the pockets of students and faculty at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy.
She presented her idea for a weeklong fundraiser, "Pennies for Puppies, Coins for Kitties," to a chapel filled with more than 270 people and ultimately, delivered $500 to the Central Brevard Humane Society, a nonprofit no-kill-for-space animal shelter in Cocoa.
"We are so proud of Sydney for organizing this," said her dad, Bill Novak. "I love the fact that Holy Trinity allows the kids to come up with ideas and ways to help out because that's what life is all about - helping others. And the kids are really into it."
Marna Novak, Sydney's mom, said she remembers a time when Sydney wasn't so fond of animals.
"When we would take her to the zoo, she'd freak out, cry and crawl up my leg," Mrs. Novak said. "It's neat to see her grow up not only learning to love animals, but wanting to help them. She's made a 180."
Sydney attributes her affinity for critters to a maltese shih-tzu mix named Harley, who joined the family more than two years ago.
"I wasn't really close to animals before, but once I got Harley, he changed my life," Sydney said. "I just got really close to animals, and I wanted to help them."