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Workers fund pays $112,000 to aid more than 600 affected by water contamination

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A fund set up to help workers affected by last month's chemical spill has exhausted its funds after distributing more than $112,000 to 625 people.

The United Way of Central West Virginia set up a West Virginia Emergency Fund shortly after the Freedom Industries chemical leak and subsequent water crisis. The fund was designed to help workers who lost wages as a result of business shutdowns pay monthly utility bills.

John Ballengee, executive director of the local United Way chapter, said the organization received $112,583 in donations for the fund. The donations helped pay bills for 625 people in Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam, Roane, and Kanawha counties.

"This would not have been possible without generous donations from a caring community and the overwhelming support from local social service agencies serving as client intake sites," Ballengee said in a press release.

The United Way partnered with several local agencies to take applications and distribute funds. The partner agencies included the Boone County Community Organization in Madison; Catholic Charities in Charleston; Community Resources in Ripley, EnAct in Chesapeake, Clendenin and Hurricane; Heart and Hand in South Charleston; Mountain Mission in Charleston; PRIDE Community Services in Logan; The Salvation Army in Charleston; and Tyler Mountain/Cross Lanes Community Services in Cross Lanes. 

Neither the United Way nor its partner agencies charged any administrative fees for the work. That meant every dollar donated to the fund was distributed to someone in need.

Those who benefited from the fund included people working in the food service industry, child care and medical facilities, cleaning companies, schools, hair salons and barber shops and hotels and motels.

The money was paid directly to the utility company or account the recipient asked the money to be paid to.

Donations for the fund ranged from as little as $2 to $5,000.

Several corporations and nonprofit organizations donated to the fund, including the Benedum Foundation, Appalachian Power, Daywood Foundation, the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, West Virginia American Water, Catholic Charities of West Virginia UniCare, WesBanco, Wells Fargo Advisors, EnviroProbe Integrated Solutions, Glotfelty Foundation, Parkersburg Area Foundation, Unity of Kanawha Valley, Temple Israel, and the Rotary Club of Alparetta, Ga.

Individual donations came from throughout the United States.

Ballengee said the success of the fund showed how well people come together to help in a time of crisis.

"Establishing and distributing the WV Emergency Fund is an example of the caring power of this community and the strength provided by our social service network," he said. "Hopefully the recipients of this support had their lives improved just a little." Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.


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