Florida Man Pays Overdue Utility Bills for 114 Families

Generosity spreads both warmth and holiday cheer.

(Feng Cheng / Shutterstock.com)

There is a Santa in Florida who made his gift-giving rounds a week early. In Gulf Breeze, a generous and sympathetic man has spread holiday cheer by paying past-due utility bills.

Michael Esmond is a resident of Gulf Breeze, a small town in Santa Rosa county close to Pensacola. He has done a beautiful act of kindness by paying the overdue gas and water bills of 114 families, according to CNN.

Last year, Esmond, owner of Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas, paid the past-due bills of 36 households, as reported by People. This year, with many people out of work due to Covid-19, plus the damage to homes when Hurricane Sally hit the area in September, Esmond decided it was time to help more who were in need. He explained to CNN that three months after the hurricane made its landfall, there are still damaged roofs in Gulf Breeze that are covered by tarps.

Esmond feels for those families who are struggling financially as he has been there himself. In the 1980s, when he was raising a young family and unable to pay his bills, his heat was shut off during one of the coldest winters.

“I can relate to people suffering and not being able to pay bills,”Esmond told CNN. “That's probably one of the biggest motivators for me, because I've been there,” he said.

After receiving a list of people whose bills are 60 days past due from the local utility company, he paid a total of $7,615, helping out 114 households. During these hard times, the utility company is trying to lessen the financial burden by giving people a Covid payment deferral of 60 days, however this is often not enough assistance.

Esmond’s generous gift will tide people over just when this deferral ends. Joanne Oliver, the billing supervisor for the city told CNN, “To have others within the community wanting to reach out and help their neighbors, now is more important than ever.”

Esmond is happy that he can help relieve part of the financial stress for so many families this year. He told CNN, “People can't afford to pay their bills and put food on the table, so I hope doing my part and paying some bills for these folks takes a little bit of stress off of them around Christmas time.”

The fortunate families received a Christmas greeting card in the mail with wishes for them to rest easier with one less bill to pay. Thanks to one man’s generosity, these families can relax in a warm, comfortable home, and be able to truly enjoy holiday cheer.

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