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West Reading community comes together after candy factory explosion

Neighbors find strength after West Reading candy factory explosion
Neighbors find strength after West Reading candy factory explosion 02:24

WEST READING, Pa. (CBS) -- Tuesday marks four days since an explosion in Berks County that left a community mourning the lives of seven victims and several injured. But through the sadness neighbors find strength.

A small makeshift memorial sits at the corner of the block where R.M. Palmer once stood. As the cleanup begins on South Second Avenue, the West Reading community continues to come together.

Just a seven-minute walk from the explosion site of R.M. Palmer is the American Diner.

So when tragedy struck Friday, the family-owned business jumped to help.

"We knew that there were first responders that were on the site immediately so we needed to do something and we needed to act quickly," Nora Hassan said.

That's why just 48 hours after the tragedy, the diner tapped into the community and donated all of its profits to those in need.

Wyomissing R.M. Palmer employee Donna was there Sunday to support her coworkers. She came back Tuesday.

"We are all family," Donna said. "We do stick together. We're Palmer strong."


In total, the American Diner raised $3,600 which was donated to the West Reading fire, police, and ambulance, as well as the West Reading Disaster Recovery Fund.

"I began hearing within 20 minutes of the explosion people texting me what can I do to help?" Kevin Murphy said.

Together the Berks County Community Foundation and United Way of Berks County are spearheading the recovery fund.

As of Tuesday morning, they raised nearly $300,000.

"Greater Reading, Berks County is a community that takes care of itself and everybody has a role to play and we have seen it," Tammy White said.

The United Way and Community Foundation say they're trying to distribute the money as quickly as possible.

First to the victims' families and then to those displaced, impacted employees, and also the borough.

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