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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)April 1, 2002

Awards Ceremony to Be Held in May at Ramapo College

(Mahwah) April 1, – For the second consecutive year, the Russ Berrie Award for Making A Difference has received a record number of nominations of everyday heroes from throughout New Jersey.

By the time all the entries were tallied, a total of 300 nominations had been received from throughout the state.

The total was slightly more than the 295 received last year. Up to 20 unsung heroes will be recognized at the Awards Ceremony to be held at Ramapo College of New Jersey in May. The selection committee will bestow monetary awards of up to $50,000, $35,000 and $25,000 as well as runner-up grants of $2,500 each.

The program was established by Russ Berrie – founder, chairman and CEO of Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. – and Ramapo College of New Jersey to recognize “unsung heroes” from throughout the state of New Jersey who have made a significant difference to the well-being of their community and for whom the award would make a significant difference in their own lives.

“The selection committee of distinguished New Jersey business leaders and professionals is right now immersed in the toughest part of the process – trying to decide which of these nominees to select for the Awards,” said Berrie who has been distinguished as one of Fortune magazine’s 40 most generous individuals. “So many of these nominations are so moving and inspiring. New Jersey is one state that is full of people who exemplify selflessness and generosity.”

Last year’s Award recipients include Ringwood resident Sandra Ramos, who received an award of $50,000 for her work as founder and director of the first shelter for battered women in America. Dana Leigh Christmas of Paterson, who helped rescue students from a dormitory fire at Seton Hall University in January 2000, received the $35,00 award. Joseph C. Martoccia of Pompton Lakes – a 97-year-old man who has served the Pompton Lakes First Aid Squad for more than six decades – was awarded $25,000.

Russ Berrie founded Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. in 1963, and over the last 39 years has built the company into the world’s premier gift company. In addition to his business accomplishments, Mr. Berrie devotes boundless energy and resources to numerous charitable causes. He has been recognized as one of the 40 most generous individuals by Fortune Magazine.

Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. is headquartered in Oakland, New Jersey. The company designs, manufactures and distributes approximately 6,000 seasonal and everyday gift products to retailers worldwide. Its diverse range of products includes everything from teddy bears and other stuffed animals to baby gifts, picture frames, candles, figurines and home decor gifts.

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s public liberal arts college, serving nearly 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 20 states and 60 nations. The College named its newly opened center for performing and visual arts, the site of the Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference ceremony, in honor of both Mr. Berrie and his wife Angelica.


Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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