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Frequently Asked Questions about the Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award

How are nominations evaluated?

An Advisory Board of community and business leaders from around the state reviews and recommends nominations.

The Advisory Board considers the following when evaluating nominees:

  • What has the individual accomplished?
  • Why is their work important?
  • How many people have been helped?
  • How far-reaching is the impact? Does it go beyond a single community or group of people to have statewide or nationwide impact?
  • Is the person a volunteer, or paid? If paid, are the efforts above and beyond their paid job?
  • Will receiving the award make a significant difference in the person’s life?

Do Nominees have to be New Jersey residents?

Yes.  The Honoree must live in New Jersey and their work must help people or communities in New Jersey.


Can I nominate a “COVID Hero” — a health care professional, a first responder, law enforcement official, educator, or essential worker? 

Yes. We welcome nominations of “Unsung NJ Heroes” from all walks of life and all ages.  Please review the criteria used to evaluate nominations listed above. Specifically, if you are nominating someone for achievements or heroic acts related to their job, please describe why these actions “go above and beyond” the responsibilities of their paid position.


I’ve nominated someone before, but they were not selected for an award.  May I nominate them again?

Yes.  Many Honorees were nominated for a few years before they were selected.


Can a past Honoree receive an award?

No. Past Honorees are not eligible to receive awards in future years.


Does it help to submit multiple nominations for one person? 

We encourage no more than three (3) nominations for each Nominee.  Each should add a different perspective on the person nominated.


How will I know if my Nominee is selected?

Those selected as 2022 Honorees are contacted in early April.  All Nominees who were not selected will receive an invitation to the virtual Award Ceremony.   The invitation will contain a card stating that they were not selected this year.  All Nominators will also receive an invitation stating their Nominee was not selected this year.

All Nominees will be recognized at the Award Ceremony and will receive a Certificate of Recognition.

How can I contact someone if I have a question? 

Please send an email to if you have a question.