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About Russ Berrie and the Russell Berrie Foundation

russ-and-angelica-berrieRuss Berrie 1933-2002

“There is no greater important in life than knowing you’ve helped a fellow human being.” ~Russ Berrie

Russell Berrie founded the Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. (RUSS), a New Jersey-based company, in 1963. Until his death in 2002, Mr. Berrie served as Chairman and Chief-Executive Officer. RUSS and its wholly-owned subsidiaries design, develop, and distribute gift, home decor, infant and juvenile products through retail outlets worldwide.

Mr. Berrie devoted endless time, energy and resources to numerous charitable causes through The Russell Berrie Foundation, created in 1985. As a philanthropist, he supported hundreds of organizations and fostered initiatives that expressed his values, passions and vision in the areas of diabetes, humanism in medicine, Jewish continuity, salesmanship as a profession, arts and culture, honoring New Jersey’s unsung heroes and strengthening communities in northern New Jersey.

The Russell Berrie Foundation continues to proactively identify and support dynamic leaders with the passion, energy and commitment to be the driving force behind programs that fulfill the broad vision of its founder: improving the well being of society.

Since 1997, 366 honorees have received the Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award.   Take a minute to learn more about these Unsung New Jersey Heroes, and watch videos of featured Honorees.

“I witnessed the joy in Mr. Berrie’s eyes that only comes from knowing it is far better to give than to receive.”
Robin Reilly, 2002 Honoree

“Most every week, I visit two men in immigration detention, each detained for two years awaiting a decision on their cases. The Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award is a great encouragement to continue to work for detainees to be treated with dignity and compassion…Thank you for honoring me, and honor I happily share with those who share this work.”

~Lorna Henkel, 2017 Honoree, First Friends of NJ & NY, Secaucus

“Being associated with one of the most distinguished service awards in New Jersey has permanently changed the scope and trajectory of America’s Grow-a-Row in ways that have helped thousands of New Jersey residents faced with hunger and food insecurity.”

~Chip Paillex, 2010 Honoree, Founder, Americas Grow-a-Row, Pittstown

“Pony Power Therapies gives special needs and at-risk children and adults a unique opportunity to interact with horses and the farm. Receiving the Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award lifted Pony Power to the next level and continues to ‘ripple’ by constantly creating new connections.”

~Dana Katzman-Spett, 2007 Honoree, Pony Power, Mahwah