Walmart closed 154 stores this week. The move was arguably an additional blow to small towns whose mom and pop stores were forced to close when the retail giant came to town and set up shop. Walmart sent a statement to CBS:
The decision to close some of our stores was not easy and we share in the communities’ disappointment. We’re always searching for opportunities to serve more customers throughout the country — especially those in underserved communities. We’re now focused on where we can help impacted communities through our plans for charitable giving and expediting the process to work with potential buyers for these locations.
The closures meant a loss of income and jobs for thousands, as well as an inconvenience for some shoppers who now might have to travel out of town to get their goods and services. Additionally, Walmart stocks took a tumble; they are down 25 percent over the past 12 months.
Now, in a move of goodwill, Walmart, along with Nestle, PepsiCo and Coca Cola, have joined hands to help the schoolchildren of Flint, Michigan. The four companies have collectively pledged to offer free water bottles to Flint’s student population.
The group will donate 6.5 million bottles of water to help the students finish out the school year, equivalent to 175 daily truckloads of water, or more than seven bottles per school day per child.
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Flint’s water supply was polluted with lead, leading many children to suffer from lead poisoning and preventing Flint’s residents from accessing safe drinking water. The decision to save the city money and process water from the local Flint River resulted in the tap water becoming toxic. Investigations are underway to determine if criminal charges will be filed against anyone in connection with the public works catastrophe.