Pennsylvania American Water, in collaboration with American Water Charitable Foundation, has made a donation that will assist the relief efforts following the explosion last month at R.M. Palmer’s chocolate factory in West Reading.
The $10,000 donation was made this week to the Berks County Community Foundation’s West Reading Disaster Recovery Fund.
Seven R.M. Palmer employees were killed and others were injured when the blast occurred just before 5 p.m. on March 24 — leveling one of the company’s buildings on South Second Avenue.
Kevin Murphy, president of the Community Foundation, said funds from the donation will be distributed in a variety of ways.
“Funding will provide financial assistance to the families of individuals who lost their lives in the explosion, to individuals displaced from their homes, to organizations helping identify alternative employment opportunities, and supporting the borough of West Reading with their commemorative planning,” he said.
According to Justin Ladner, president of Pennsylvania American Water, the company has strong ties to the area — through its customers and employees — and the company wanted to do what it can to help those in need by making the donation.
“We appreciate the generous support of so many in this community already,” Ladner said in a statement. “We want our neighbors in West Reading to know that all American Water employees across the country — not just those here in Pennsylvania — are with you.”
West Reading is located between Pennsylvania American Water’s Glen Alsace water system and Exeter wastewater systems. The company has nearly 9,500 water customers, 7,900 wastewater customers and 20 employees in this area, the company said in a press release.
“The American Water Charitable Foundation is pleased to join the ongoing relief efforts to support the families and community impacted by this devastating event,” Carrie Williams, president of American Water Charitable Foundation, said in a statement. “We are grateful to the Berks County Community Foundation for their leadership during a very difficult time.”
The American Water Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established by American Water in 2010. It provides a formal way to support employees in their charitable endeavors, including disaster relief efforts. Since its inception the foundation has provided $12 million in grants and matching gifts, according to the company.
Pennsylvania American Water is a subsidiary of American Water, providing water and wastewater services to approximately 2.4 million people. American Water dates to 1886, providing water and wastewater to 14 million people in 24 states.
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