Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

2 from Bergen Saluted at Berrie Awards

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

2 from Bergen Saluted at Berrie Awards

Article excerpt

MAHWAH -- Two Bergen County residents who launched drives to help less fortunate people here and around the world were among 10 state residents acknowledged Friday with the Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference.

Now in its 19th year, the award was established by the late Russell Berrie of Englewood, whose company made plush animals, toys and gifts and who turned to using his wealth in humanitarian causes. The award highlights the work of unsung heroes from throughout New Jersey.

In a ceremony at Ramapo College of New Jersey, 10 prizes -- one of $50,000, one of $35,000, one of $25,000 and seven of $5,000 -- were handed out to winners culled from a pool of 176 nominees.

"No step is too small," Angelica Berrie, Russell Berrie's wife and now The Russell Berrie Foundation's president and member of its Board of Trustees. said to current and former honorees at the ceremony. "We can all do something that matters."

The two Bergen County residents, Paige Alenick and Anne Ciavaglia McMahon, were given honorable mention awards of $5,000.

Alenick, a New York University student from Woodcliff Lake, earned a prize for Donate-A-Toothbrush, which she founded in 2011 to combat oral health issues and disease. Some 150,000 toothbrushes donated by individuals, houses of worship, students and government officials have been distributed to domestic violence shelters, food pantries and other organizations that help people in more than 60 countries.

"It's the simplest thing, and it makes such a huge impact on people's lives," Alenick said, adding that some people in developing counties use sticks or a piece of cloth to clean their teeth. "This may be the only toothbrush they have in their whole life," she said.

Ciavaglia McMahon of Hasbrouck Heights was recognized for her work helping people with disabilities.

Ciavaglia McMahon, who could not attend the ceremony, was born with spinal muscular atrophy and launched Our New Journey in 2007 after retiring to support people with disabilities and their families. …

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