Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
Feb. 28, 2008 — The Turin shroud, the 14- by 4-foot linen long believed to have been wrapped around Jesus’ body after the crucifixion, has entered the digital age.
A huge 12.8 billion-pixel image was made of the linen,
on which the smudged outline of the body of a man is indelibly
impressed. The image was made following a Vatican request to obtain the
most detailed reproduction of the yellowing ancient cloth. The
technology allows a level of scrutiny of the linen as never achieved
"The Shroud has been photographed in high definition
for the first time. We have stitched together 1,600 shots, each the
size of a credit card, to create a huge photo which is almost 1,300
times stronger than a picture taken with a 10 million pixel digital
camera," Mauro Gavinelli, technical supervisor at HAL9000, a company
specializing in art photography, told Discovery News.
According to Gavinelli, who also created the world’s highest-resolution photo when he digitalized Da Vinci’s "Last Supper," the technology allows researchers to analyze the shroud in unprecedented detail.
"It is like looking at the Shroud through a microscope. You can see
the threads, the fibers that make these threads, the damage that the
shroud has suffered over the years," Gavinelli said.
As hundreds of shots were taken using sophisticated equipment, the
process, itself, was recorded by the British Broadcasting Company,
which will be airing a program about the project on the Saturday before
"It was fascinating. Seeing the shroud within a few inches is a
unique experience. The image is very visible, it isn’t true at all that
it is fading," said David Rolfe, director of the BBC documentary.
Kept rolled up in a silver casket, the shroud has been shown only
five times in the past century. When it last went on public display in
2000, more than three million people saw it. The next public display
will be in 2025.
Scientific interest in the cloth, which has survived several blazes
since its existence, began in 1898, when it was photographed by the
lawyer, Secondo Pia. The negatives revealed the image of a bearded man
with pierced wrists and feet and a bloodstained head.
Venerated by many Catholics as proof that Christ was resurrected from the grave,
the shroud was eventually dismissed as a brilliant, medieval fake
twenty years ago. Carbon-14 tests at three reputable laboratories in
Oxford, Zurich and Tucson, dated it to between 1260 and 1390.
After the tests, the Oxford laboratory’s founding director, Edward
Hall, told journalists: "Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up
and flogged it."
But shroud scholars, known as sindonologists, have always argued
that no medieval forger could either have produced such an accurate
fake or anticipated the invention of photography.
Speculation about the linen cloth continued as well as debates over the validity of the carbon-14 tests.
"There is the possibility that new carbon-14 tests today will
produce different results. A new hypothesis has been formulated, and it
deals with information that wasn’t available twenty years ago," Rolfe
The new hypothesis, developed by "another contributor to the film,"
according to a University of Oxford press release, is being tested by
Christopher Ramsey, director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit. The results will be revealed in the documentary
Ramsey, a top expert in the use of carbon dating in archeological
research, is skeptical the new theory will prove that the carbon dating
tests were inaccurate.
"I keep an open mind–as I would about any
scientific investigation. However, my strong intuition, based on my
experience in this field, is that the new hypothesis will not challenge
the accuracy of the original radiocarbon dating exercise," Ramsey said
in a statement.
The new theory would only require two percent contamination to skew
the results by 1,500 years–not much considering the shroud’s long
history, handling and exposure to the elements.
"There is nothing new, as far as I know, which would change the
situation. These ideas have been raised previously and none has been
shown to have any merit. Many hypotheses, such as contamination, fire
changing the results and more dubious assertions have been made, but
none has seriously challenged the 1988 dating," Timothy Jull, a professor in geosciences at the University of Arizona who specializes in carbon dating, told Discovery News.
Indeed, numerous theories, such as a plastic coating built up on the
linen by millions of tiny micro-organisms, have been presented to
explain how the radiocarbon tests could have been inaccurate. All have
been rejected by the scientific community.
In 1998, Ramsey himself tested the possibility that carboxylation of
the cellulose in the linen during the 1532 fire could have produced a
younger dating, but concluded that "carboxylation is not a systematic
source of error in the dating of cellulose-containing materials such as
the linen in the Shroud of Turin."
The latest research, by the late Ray Rogers, suggested that the
sample used to test the age of the shroud in 1988 was taken from a
medieval rewoven area of the shroud.
Whatever the outcome of Ramsey’s tests, the high definition images
are expected to add new complexity to one of the most controversial
relics in Christendom.
"The Shroud has yielded surprises each time it is subjected to a new
form of reproduction. The first time it was photographed, it revealed
its negative characteristics. Then it was scanned and turned into a
tridimensional image. Now we have filmed it in high definition. We are
already seeing some interesting effects," Rolfe said.
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:04am GMT 25/02/2008
The Oxford laboratory that declared the Turin Shroud to be a medieval fake 20 years ago is investigating claims that its findings were wrong.
The head of the world-renowned laboratory has admitted that carbon dating tests it carried out on Christendom’s most famous relic may be inaccurate.
Professor Christopher Ramsey, the director of the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, said he was treating seriously a new theory suggesting that contamination had skewed the results.
Though he stressed that he would be surprised if the supposedly definitive 1988 tests were shown to be far out – especially "a thousand years wrong" – he insisted that he was keeping an open mind.
The development will re-ignite speculation about the four-metre linen sheet, which many believe bears the miraculous image of the crucified Christ.
The original carbon dating was carried out on a sample by researchers working separately in laboratories in Zurich and Arizona as well as Oxford.
To the dismay of Christians, the researchers concluded that the shroud was created between 1260 and 1390, and was therefore likely to be a forgery devised in the Middle Ages.
Even Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero, the then Cardinal of Turin, conceded that the relic was probably a hoax.
There have been numerous theories purporting to explain how the tests could have produced false results, but so far they have all been rejected by the scientific establishment.
Many people remain convinced that the shroud is genuine.
Prof Ramsey, an expert in the use of carbon dating in archeological research, is conducting fresh experiments that could explain how a genuinely old linen could produce "younger" dates.
The results, which are due next month, will form part of a documentary on the Turin Shroud that is being broadcast on BBC 2 on Easter Saturday.
David Rolfe, the director of the documentary, said it was hugely significant that Prof Ramsey had thought it necessary to carry out further tests that could challenge the original dating.
He said that previous hypotheses, put forward to explain how the cloth could be older than the 1988 results suggested, had been "rejected out of hand".
"The main reason is that the contamination levels on the cloth that would have been needed to distort the results would have to be equivalent to the actual sample itself," he said.
"But this new theory only requires two per cent contamination to skew the results by 1,500 years. Moreover, it springs from published data about the behavior of carbon-14 in the atmosphere which was unknown when the original tests were carried out 20 years ago."
Mr Rolfe added that the documentary, presented by Rageh Omaar, the former BBC correspondent, would also contain new archeological and historical evidence supporting claims that the shroud was a genuine burial cloth.
The film will focus on two other recorded relics, the Shroud of Constantinople, which is said to have been stolen by Crusaders in 1204, and the Shroud of Jerusalem that wrapped Jesus’ body and which, according to John’s Gospel, had such a profound effect when it was discovered.
According to Mr Rolfe, the documentary will produce convincing evidence that these are one and the same as the Shroud of Turin, adding credence to the belief that it dates back to Christ’s death.
February 22, 2008
CBNNews.com – Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. used to say that the most segregated hour in the country was on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m.
However, that all began to slowly change in 1952 when the Reverend
Billy Graham made a decision to stop holding segregated crusades.
He faced an insurmountable amount of criticism for this decision,
but with the guidance of King and other leaders such as Reverend Howard
Jones – the first black evangelist – Graham changed the face of
religion in America as we know it.
A Trip Back in Time
|WEB EXTRA! INTERVIEW WITH REV. JONES:|
Reflections on Being
The year was 1953. America’s borders were filled with racial tension and uncertainty.
Graham was sailing uncharted territory when he did the unthinkable.
He held a crusade in Chattanooga, Tennessee where hundreds of thousands
of men, women and children of all races sat together and worshiped the
"When God looks at you, He doesn’t look on the outward appearance;
the Bible says He looks upon the heart," Graham said. And he took his
fight to end segregation to the streets.
Graham had been preaching at Madison Square Garden to thousands
nightly, but very few blacks came. So, at the suggestion of a
colleague, he asked Jones for help. Jones recommended that Graham take
his message to the streets of New York, and that’s exactly what he did.
Jones said, "I decided I was never going to speak to anymore
segregated audiences and he said, ‘I want it to be that way. He said,
‘What do you mean?’ I said ‘Go to Harlem.’"
Graham preached at Salem Methodist Church to thousands. The next
week, he went to Brooklyn. And slowly, but surely, the crusades in New
York became increasingly integrated.
Prominent singer Ethel Waters attended the event and re-dedicated her life to Christ.
Enter… Martin Luther King
Graham even invited his good friend King, to one of the events.
"We thank Thee this evening for the marvelous things that have been
done in the city through the dynamic preaching of this evangelist. We
ask Thee, oh God, to continue blessing him and give him power and
authorities. divine influence," King prayed.
Graham faced a flurry of criticism from both blacks and whites, but that did not deter him.
"Some whites wanted to know why you would fool around with these
people. And some said if you’re going to integrate your team we will
not support you. We will not give you money, so they used all kinds of
pressures on him, but he said ‘I don’t care. I’m going to stick by my
guns,’" Jones said.
On the black side, Graham found himself facing criticism that he
wasn’t doing enough so support the black community and that he "didn’t
speak enough about civil rights," BGEA associate evangelist Dr. Ralph
Graham went to King for advice.
Graham recounted his conversation with King: "Martin Luther King
suggested to me that I stay in the South and hold integrated meetings
and that he was going to take to the streets and that he would probably
get killed in the streets. ‘But I don’t think you ought to because you
are going to be able to do some things that I can’t and I’m going to be
able to do some things you can’t, but we’re after the same objective.’"
And so he did, holding crusades from Arkansas to Alabama.
"So here we were with neighborhood after neighborhood after
neighborhood in my state on the verge of violence, and yet tens of
thousands of black and white Christians were there together in a
football stadium," recalled former President Bill Clinton.
"And when he issued the call at the end of this message, thousands
came down holding hands, arm in arm crying," Clinton said. "It was the
beginning of the end of the old South in my home state. I will never
He even went to South Africa preaching before an integrated audience in 1973.
Graham also worked closely with Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon – urging them to ensure equality for all.
"Then there’s the race problem, and it seems to me should be put in
its proper perspective" Graham said. "It is a world problem… there is
greater improvement being made in America than perhaps any great nation
in the history of the world because we are at least attempting to solve
the problem through understanding, through dialogue, through
In the end, Graham’s legacy is one that is filled with a message of love, togetherness, and unity.
Jones said, "I think Billy has proven the fact that in Christ there’s no east or west and no north or south. We just love Him."
Graham said, "The human heart is the same the world over. Only
Christ can meet the deepest needs of our world and our hearts. Christ
alone can bring lasting peace — peace with God, peace among men and
ScienceDaily (Feb. 22,
2008) — Seeking an out-of-this-world travel destination? Outer space will
rocket into reality as “the” getaway of this century, according to researchers
at the University of Delaware and the University of Rome La Sapienza. In fact,
the “final frontier” could begin showing up in travel guides by 2010, they
“In the twenty-first century, space tourism could represent the most
significant development experienced by the tourism industry,” says Prof. Fred
DeMicco, ARAMARK Chair in UD’s Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management
“With the Earth under attack from a myriad of environmental impacts,
including climate change concerns and pollution, outer space is the next viable
frontier to explore and make longtime plans for,” he notes. “While there are
global policies to be determined relating to private ventures in space, the
technology to make space travel safer and cheaper is moving forward.”
DeMicco and Silvia Ciccarelli, a geoeconomist who was a recent visiting
scholar at UD, co-wrote “Outer Space as a New Frontier for Hospitality and
Tourism,” which is in review for an upcoming issue of the Hospitality Educator.
Ciccarelli is a consultant to the Italian Association of Aerospace
What kind of person will be lured to space travel? Is it those of us who’ve
loved “The Jetsons,” “Star Trek,” or peering at the heavens through a
“This is a destination for the ‘extreme tourists’–tourists who want the
ultimate new travel adventure and the thrill of outer space,” DeMicco says.
“They want something new and interesting–the room with the best view of Earth
According to surveys of the demand for space tourism undertaken in 2001 and
2006 by Futron, a U.S. consulting company, the average age of the wannabe space
tourist is 55 years old, 72% are males and 28% are females, 46% have above
average or better fitness, 48% spend a month or more on vacation annually, and
41% work full-time and 23% are retired. The projected demand is 13,000
passengers in 2021, with the ability of the celestial industry to generate
revenues of $700 million annually.
While only a few multimillionaires have been able to afford the current $20
million pricetag to go up in a Russian rocket for a two-week stay at the
International Space Station, shorter, more affordable “suborbital” space
flights, costing on the order of $80,000 per trip, likely will drive space
tourism in the near term, according to Ciccarelli.
“During these flights, a spacecraft reaches space, but it does not enter
Earth’s orbit,” she explains.
Suborbital trips are likely to become available to tourists by 2010-2015,
Ciccarelli says, while tourism in space hotels is on a longer trajectory,
predicted to become a reality in 2025.
So what will tourists in space do?
“Passengers will enter a world that only astronauts and cosmonauts have
experienced–the acceleration of a rocket launch, weightlessness, and a
spectacular view of the Earth,” Ciccarelli says.
The low-gravity environment 600 to 2,000 kilometers above Earth would
suddenly make Leonardo da Vinci’s dreams and drawings of human-powered flight
possible, using fabric wings attached to the arms, and tails attached to the
ankles, according to Ciccarelli.
“Many recreational and sports activities also could exploit this possibility
given a fairly large chamber,” she notes.
A slowly rotating, cylindrical swimming chamber would enable people to become
more like ‘flying fish’-to swim in low gravity, but then propel themselves out
of the water and ‘fly’ in a central air space, Ciccarelli says.
A safer, cheaper launch system is critical if space travel is to become more
commonplace in the future. An elevator rising tens of thousands of miles into
space is one possibility that scientists and entrepreneurs are considering.
“First envisioned some forty years ago, the space elevator will climb an
enormous cable, like Jack up the beanstalk, to a terminal where passengers and
cargo can board spacecraft for the trip farther out,” Ciccarelli says.
“Until recently this was a fantasy because there were no materials strong
enough to build such a cable,” DeMicco notes. “Today, however, so-called carbon
nanotubes up to twenty times stronger than steel are approaching mass
production, and engineers say a space elevator could be completed within fifteen
The non-profit Spaceward Foundation was formed in 2004 and NASA established a
competition in 2005 to accelerate research on the space elevator concept.
While short excursions into outer space may be on the itinerary in the near
term, a “space port” currently is being built in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with
support from Virgin Galactic and other companies, and hoteliers are scoping out
new locations some 238,000 miles above–on the moon.
“Lunar hotels are now being planned,” DeMicco says. “Galactic Suites is known
as the first space hotel, and they promote delivering 15 sunrises and sunsets in
a single day–for the adventure travelers who are willing to spend approximately
$4 million for a three-day ‘stay’ in space,” DeMicco says.
In 1967, in an address to the American Astronautical Society, Barron Hilton,
then president of Hilton Hotels, described a “Lunar Hilton” with its entrance on
the surface of the moon and most of its rooms located 20 to 30 feet below the
surface. The hotel would have an aptly named “Galaxy Lounge.”
More recently, companies such as Japan’s Shimizu Corporation have focused on
the design of an orbital hotel in space, with rotating rings to provide
Who will run these space-age hotels?
DeMicco says UD’s students will be up to the challenge. “Our Hotel,
Restaurant and Institutional Management students are taught the latest trends in
strategic management and forecasting including land, sea, and space among them,
and UD is not only a Land Grant, Sea Grant, and Urban Grant university, but also
a Space Grant university,” he notes.
“Indeed, they are the global travelers today through UD’s study abroad
programs, with aspirations for the stars in their hospitality and tourism
careers of tomorrow.”
Adapted from materials provided by University of Delaware.
or report? Use one of the following formats:
To Rocket In This Century, Researchers Predict. ScienceDaily. Retrieved
February 22, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/02/080222095432.htm
drawing of the space hotel. (Credit: Courtesy of Shimizu Corporation, Tokyo,
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Free Links: New Photos/Expert-Info Download Links at
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Feb. 21, 2008 — A new genetic analysis of people from around the world adds further confirmation to the African origin of humans.
The study of genetic details from 938 individuals from 51 populations provides evidence of how people are related and different, researchers led by Richard M. Myers of Stanford University report in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.
The team looked at variations in 650,000 sections of each of the DNA samples, providing a view of the similarities and differences between people in greater detail than had been available previously.
Scientists have long believed that modern humans first developed in Africa and spread from there to populate the rest of the world, a theory strongly supported by the new analysis, the researchers said.
In addition, they noted that residents of the Middle East can trace their ancestry to both Africa and Europe, which they said is logical since the region formed a bridge for movement back and forth between the areas.
Also, they noted, they found a close a relationship between the Yakut population of Siberia and native Americans, who are believed to have migrated from Siberia via a land bridge at a time of lower sea levels.
The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 20, 2008) — When Temple Grandin argued that animals and autistic savants share cognitive similarities in her best-selling book Animals in Translation (2005), the idea gained steam outside the community of cognitive neuroscientists. Grandin, a professor of animal science whose best-selling books have provided an unprecedented look at the autistic mind, says her autism gives her special insight into the inner workings of the animal mind. She based her proposal on the observation that animals, like autistic humans, sense and respond to stimuli that nonautistic humans usually overlook.
In a new essay,* Giorgio Vallortigara and his colleagues, argue that, while Grandin’s book "shows extraordinary insight into both autism and animal welfare," the question of equivalent cognitive abilities between savants and animals "deserves scrutiny from scientists working in animal cognition and comparative neuroscience."
Vallortigara et al. argue that savant abilities — for example, exceptional skills in music, math, or art — come at a cost in other aspects of processing and, therefore, appear to be unrelated to the extraordinary species-specific adaptations seen in some taxa. Furthermore, the authors argue, rather than having privileged access to lower level sensory information before it is packaged into concepts, as has been argued for savants, animals, like non-autistic humans, process sensory inputs according to rules, and that this manner of processing is a specialized feature of the left hemisphere in humans and nonhuman animals.
At the most general level, they argue, "the left hemisphere sets up rules based on experience and the right hemisphere avoids rules in order to detect details and unique features that allow it to decide what is familiar and what is novel. This is true for human and nonhuman animals, likely reflecting ancient evolutionary origins of the underlying brain mechanisms."
Grandin, who responds to the authors’ critique in a special commentary, suggests that "the basic disagreement between the authors and me arises from the concept of details–specifically how details are perceived by humans, who think in language, compared with animals, who think in sensory-based data. Since animals do not have verbal language, they have to store memories as pictures, sounds, or other sensory impressions." And sensory-based information, she says, is inherently more detailed than word-based memories. "As a person with autism, all my thoughts are in photo-realistic pictures," she explains. "The main similarity between animal thought and my thought is the lack of verbal language."
Though Grandin appreciates the authors’ "fascinating overview of the most recent research on animal cognition," she suggests that "further experiments need to be done with birds to either confirm or disprove Vallortigara et al.’s hypothesis that birds such as the Clark’s nutcracker, which has savant-like memory for food storage, has retained good cognition in other domains. My hypothesis is that birds that have savant-like skills for food storage sites or remembering migration routes may be less flexible in their cognition." Grandin welcomes the discussion following the publication of her book–we invite readers to join in that discussion by posting their own Reader Response.
*Journal reference: Vallortigara G, Snyder A, Kaplan G, Bateson P, Clayton NS, et al. (2008) Are animals autistic savants" PLoS Biol 6(2): e42. doi:10.1371/journal. pbio.0060042
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ScienceDaily (Feb. 20, 2008) — A University of Rhode Island pharmacy professor has found for the first time evidence of Alzheimer’s-like disease in monkeys that were exposed to lead as infants.
Nasser Zawia, a URI professor of biomedical sciences at the College of Pharmacy led the three-year study, which involved four institutions.
“This is the first evidence of promotion of Alzheimer’s disease-like pathology in a primate by an environmental agent,” Zawia said. “It is relevant because monkeys have identical genes to humans.”
In a study begun in 1980, a group of monkeys was given infant formula with low levels of lead for 400 days. A control group was given formula with no lead. No health problems were found in any of the monkeys during the 23-year study. The low level of lead given to one group of monkeys was designed to mimic what children would be exposed to in their environment. By the time of Zawia’s study, there were no detectable levels of lead in the monkey tissue from the group exposed to the toxin.
In his research, Zawia and his research team discovered Alzheimer’s related genes as well as amyloid plaques associated with the illness in the tissue from the monkeys given lead. These plaques, or protein fragments, would be typically broken down and eliminated, but Alzheimer’s produces hard, insoluble plaques.
While the hazards of lead exposure in children have been well publicized, Zawia’s latest work “provides further proof for a development origin and environmental link for Alzheimer’s disease.”
He said senile plaques were found in all of the adult monkeys, but the ones exposed to lead as infants were more dense and numerous.
The research follows earlier studies by Zawia that demonstrated links between infant exposure to lead and precursors to Alzheimer’s in rats and mice. “We found that when they became adults, the rats’ and mice genes mimicked what happens to genes in humans affected by Alzheimer’s.
“But the problem was, rats don’t develop brain plaques as people do when they are afflicted with Alzheimer’s,” Zawia said.
Through Zawia’s contacts at the National Institutes of Health, he became aware of a study that had been done by Deborah C. Rice, now a toxicologist at the Maine Environmental Protection Agency, on behavioral and cognitive effects on monkeys given low levels of lead in infant formula. She examined the monkeys from infancy to adulthood.
“Dr. Jean Harry, a mentor of mine at NIH, told me about the availability of adult monkey tissue. This was all very serendipitous. I didn’t know Dr. Rice and wasn’t aware of her ongoing study,” Zawia said.
In all, Zawia has been studying the introduction of lead to young mammals and its effects on adult animals for the past eight years. This work has attracted about $700,000 in grants from the National Institutes of Health.
“We were the first to establish a link between developmental lead exposure and Alzheimer’s disease-like pathogenesis. This work took over five years from experiment to publication. Here we provide further proof that is relevant to humans in an animal model that has identical gene sequences and pathologic outcome.
“We believe at some critical developmental window, lead exposure has intervened with control of genes and thus changes the destiny of gene expression in old age,” Zawia said.
The findings were published in January’s issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.
Adapted from materials provided by University of Rhode Island.
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Kids in Distressed Situations, Inc. (K.I.D.S.), a global charity of leading retailers, manufacturers and licensors of children’s and youth products, launched a new and expanded website to better serve the needs of product donors, cash contributors and individuals seeking information about the 23-year-old organization.
New York, NY (PRWEB) February 20, 2008 — Kids in Distressed Situations, Inc. (K.I.D.S.), a global charity of leading retailers, manufacturers and licensors of children’s and youth products, launched a new and expanded website to better serve the needs of product donors, cash contributors and individuals seeking information about the 23-year-old organization.
|The site is powerful and informative and enables users to easily browse through the concise sections and pages. The site also provides accessible tools to donate products or contribute cash to our organization.|
"Our new website reflects the K.I.D.S. mission to improve the lives of children in distress while providing clear and direct functionality for our users," said Rick Schaub, K.I.D.S. Board Chairman. "The site is powerful and informative and enables users to easily browse through the concise sections and pages. The site also provides accessible tools to donate products or contribute cash to our organization."
While retaining the address of its previous site, www.kidsdonations.org, the new site features an animated opening video explaining that "Promises Made" become "Promises Delivered" through the distribution of new clothes, books, toys and other products to children in need. K.I.D.S. distributed over $61 million worth of new products in 2007 to children and their families through a network of some 1,000 local agencies, consisting of homeless shelters, foster-care facilities, church groups, after-school programs and programs serving military families.
The home page of the site shows four sections -Impact on KIDS, About K.I.D.S., How to Help, and Supporters & Partners – to which readers can go for information, ranging from descriptions of the organization’s program initiatives to lists of its product donors and local agency partners. Menu bars on the home page enable readers to go directly to a News & Events section or to access and download a product donation form or make cash donations via credit card.
Contact: Jerry Bergman
Director of Communications
Tel: (212) 279-5493