Nominations for the 2010 Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference will be accepted through March 26. New Jerseyans who have made a significant difference in their communities through a heroic effort or a lifetime of service 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 recognition.
Established in 1997 by the late Russell Berrie, founder of Russ Berrie and Company, Inc., and Ramapo College of New Jersey, the awards honor “unsung heroes” from throughout the state. Up to 19 individuals will be recognized for making a significant difference to the well being of their community during the annual spring awards ceremony at Ramapo College in Mahwah. The Russell Berrie Foundation will provide monetary awards of up to $50,000, $35,000 and $25,000 as well as runner-up grants of $2,500 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 the world a better place,” said Angelica Berrie of Englewood, president of The Russell Berrie Foundation.
Last year, the top honorees included a patient care technician whose quick thinking likely saved the life of a truck driver whose gas tanker overturned and exploded, the founder of a project to help Kenyan schoolchildren and an EMT who has been volunteering on her township’s ambulance corps for more than 35 years.
Kevin Williams, a 2009 honoree who was awarded $35,000 for helping Maasai schoolchildren through the Maywood Rotary Kenya Project says, “Like all the other nominees, I never expected any kind of acknowledgement just for doing the right thing. I must admit that knowing I was chosen for the award pushes me to work harder and longer at making a difference for others.”
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 eminent New Jersey business leaders and professionals, will evaluate nominations submitted by community groups, houses of worship, educators, representatives of the media and others. The group presents the awards at a ceremony held at Ramapo College in June.
Angelica Berrie, wife of the late Russ Berrie, heads the Russell Berrie Foundation in its work to foster continuity and enrichment of Jewish communal life, support issues of health with an emphasis on diabetes and humanism in medicine and recognize individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others. She continues the philanthropic work begun by her husband. Throughout his career, Mr. Berrie sought ways to give something back to the community. He realized that in addition to those who provide charitable gifts, there are others who give of themselves to help their neighbors.