West Reading community joins together to support families, first responders following devastating explosion

In the aftermath of the R.M. Palmer factory explosion, local organizations have established the West Reading Disaster Recovery Fund and, already, thousands of dollars have poured in for the families affected. Community members are doing their part, as well, to support first responders.

"For some people, even ourselves, and these elected officials that are here, it is still Friday, March 24," West Reading Mayor Samantha Kaag remarked.

The search for survivors did not stop once the explosion occurred Friday night, as police, fire and search and rescue crews could be seen around the clock looking for signs of life.

"The first responders, as the mayor said, literally have to be pulled out of the site and told to go home, because they want to keep searching," Kevin Murphy, president of the Berks County Community Foundation, said.


Blocks away, neighbors and local businesses felt the blast and in the aftermath, felt the need to pitch in.

"We’re all still kind of in shock. You know, it’s just right down the street," Jared Klinger, of 3ed and Spruce Draft Haus, commented. "Yesterday, we walked down a few cases of water. Some wraps for them, like turkey and Swiss, ham and Swiss, a bunch of pizzas."

Sunday, Redner’s Market dropped off 400 pieces of fried chicken and several cases of Gatorade.

"We just want to do our part and, we know they’re out working hard down there, pretty much, for the past 24-7 for days now," Klinger added.

The United Way of Berks County and the Berks County Community Foundation are taking donations through the West Reading Disaster Recovery Fund.

"The funds will be provided to other organizations that are assisting families who lost loved ones in the explosion, or people who were displaced from their homes, or from employment again, due to the explosion," President of United Way, Berks County, Tammy White, explained.

To donate to the West Reading Disaster Recovery Fund, visit the BCCF website. The company has set up a hotline to provide support for families. That number is 610-374-5224 extension 539.