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Nominations Open for Unsung NJ Heroes for the 20th Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)January 4, 2016

MAHWAH, N.J. – Nominations are now being accepted through February 19, 2016, for the 20th Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award.  New Jerseyans who have made a significant difference in their communities through a lifetime of service or a single heroic act are eligible for cash awards of up to $50,000.  Members of the community are invited to nominate New Jersey residents whose deeds, carried out in the state, make them worthy of the honor. The Russell Berrie Foundation sponsors the program.

Established in 1996 by the late Russell Berrie, founder of Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. and the Russell Berrie Foundation, and Ramapo College of New Jersey, the awards honor “unsung heroes” statewide. Up to 11 individuals will be recognized for making a significant difference to the well-being of their community during the annual spring award ceremony at Ramapo College in Mahwah. The Russell Berrie Foundation will provide three major monetary awards of $50,000, $35,000 and $25,000, and up to eight runners-up receive $5,000 each.

“Through this award, we honor the contributions of people who don’t seek recognition for what they do, yet generously give of themselves to make New Jersey a better place,” said Angelica Berrie of Englewood, president of The Russell Berrie Foundation.

Nominees will be reviewed by an Advisory Board, which is co-chaired by Josh S. Weston, honorary chairman, Automatic Data Processing, Inc., and Dr. Peter P. Mercer, president of Ramapo College of New Jersey.  The Board, comprised of prominent New Jersey business leaders and professionals, will evaluate nominations submitted by individuals, community groups, houses of worship, educators, representatives of the media and others.  Following this evaluation, based on criteria defined by the Board, the group will present the awards at a ceremony on Friday, May 6, 2016.

Last year, the top honorees included an inner-city teacher who established an innovative school management program which brings needed resources, such as health and social services to children and their families in the poorest sections of the city; a woman whose personal crusade led to funding of research and forced cleanup of polluted waterways discovered to be the sites of high cancer incidence; and a retired businessman who single-handedly collected thousands of coats, linens and other essential items for shelters and other charitable organizations.

“I never expected or thought doing what was necessary would earn me the honor of the Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award,” said Linda Gillick, founder of Ocean of Love in Toms River, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping local families struggling with cancer. “This award showed me that when you believe in something and you try to safeguard the life of your community, others are watching and paying attention.”

More honoree stories from 20 years are available online at:
https://www.ramapo.edu/berrie-awards/

For more information on The Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award or to nominate someone, please contact:

The Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award
c/o Office of the President
Ramapo College of New Jersey
505 Ramapo Valley Road
Mahwah, New Jersey 07430
Phone:  201.684.7179

Or email: madaawards@ramapo.edu

Nomination forms are also available online at https://www.ramapo.edu/berrie-awards/ Deadline for entries is February 19, 2016. Nominations and/or inquiries may also be sent to madaawards@ramapo.edu

About The Russell Berrie Foundation

The Russell Berrie Foundation was established in 1985 by Russell Berrie, an American entrepreneur and philanthropist. Russell Berrie had a passion for giving that was grounded in his deep belief in humanity, the importance of touching the lives of ordinary people, the importance of strengthening the local community in New Jersey and the power of using philanthropy to help achieve transformational change. The Russell Berrie Foundation seeks to continue Russ’ mission by providing significant support to strengthen New Jersey’s art, cultural and health care institutions and celebrates everyday people who make a significant difference in the lives of others through the Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award.

The campus center for performing and visual arts – the site of the Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award ceremony – is named in honor of both Mr. Berrie and his wife, Angelica.

More honoree quotes, photos and infographics available upon request.

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About Ramapo College

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 comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per Niche.com.

Ramapo College provides its students with individualized attention, mentorship, and supports; hands-on learning; and a range of opportunities for service and leadership development. Its graduation and retention rates exceed national averages and it places approximately 1,000 students per year in internships in New York City. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice; is recognized as the state’s top college on the list of Best Disability Schools by Great Value Colleges; is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools; and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others.  

Ramapo College’s over 40,000 alumni are the confident, intellectually curious, self-aware, and humble people who are highly sought after and who make a positive impact at local, national, and global levels.  Ramapo College is distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by CollegesofDistinction.com. Every student at Ramapo is enrolled in its unique and award winning Pathways Program which equips and empowers students, across the continuum of their academic career, to secure internships, pursue graduate/professional school, and/or enter the job market. 

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, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

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