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Teen donates money to ROPD K-9 program

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published August 12, 2015

 Grace Novak, 16, stops for a photo with ROPD officer Michael Stajich and K-9 Jessie after being honored for her fundraising efforts at City Hall.

Grace Novak, 16, stops for a photo with ROPD officer Michael Stajich and K-9 Jessie after being honored for her fundraising efforts at City Hall.

Photo provided by Christine Novak

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ROYAL OAK — From an early age, Grace Novak possessed a giving spirit.

“Grace has always had such a kind heart,” said mother Christine Novak. “She is a sensitive soul and has always reached out to others in need. 

“Whether it is towards my handicapped father, or a lost dog, she will always lend a helping hand. She roots for the underdog — no pun intended — and if it’s an actual dog, all the more.”

It was no surprise when the incoming Royal Oak High School junior decided to spearhead a fundraiser for the Royal Oak Police Department K-9 program.

Grace, 16, was honored for her charitable efforts during the Aug. 3 City Commission meeting, where she presented a check for $500 to ROPD Sgt. Michael Moore.

“We truly appreciate this generous gift,” Moore said, adding that the money will be a big help.

“We’ll use it to buy supplies and anything that comes along that the dogs may need,” he said.

Moore said the department’s K-9s are used for activities ranging from narcotic detection to tracking suspects.

“Everybody seems to enjoy the K-9s when they’re working, except for the bad guys,” Moore said. “We really utilize them almost on a daily basis.”

Grace raised the money by making all-natural dog biscuits and selling them at the Royal Oak Farmers Market in the spring.

“I love dogs, and I wanted to do something for them,” she said. “Seeing the police officer at school made me think, ‘Why not the police dogs? They help us, they will be around in our school, they will put their lives on the line and they are super smart.”

Grace said that when shoppers learned the sale proceeds were going to the K-9s, they were very supportive.

“A lot of people were super generous,” she said. “Some people didn’t even have dogs and they gave money or bought treats.”

Her motivation came from a school project during her sophomore year, which Grace modified and continued herself.

Christine said the project was an experiment and the students were able to create their own.

“Grace just took it upon herself to do what she wanted to do and help who she wanted to help,” Christine said. “She had a goal in mind to help the K-9 unit, and she achieved that. 

“She would also like to continue to help the ROPD K-9 unit in any way she can. We could not be more proud of Grace.”

Grace said she hopes to continue her relationship with the Police Department.

“I like to help people and do something for somebody,” she said. “It makes me happy.”

Grace was allowed to attend a training session with the department’s two dogs — Ryker and Jessie — and watch them in action.

“It was really cool,” she said.

Grace said that when she gets older, she hopes to work with animals — possibly as a trainer or handler.

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