Mike Esmond, a great-grandfather and business owner from Gulf Breeze, Florida, gave over a hundred people something to smile about this Christmas. He paid off the outstanding utility bills for 114 families in his community, totaling $7,600.
“When we had Hurricane Sally, that did a lot of damage to a lot of residents here,” Esmond told CBS News. “And the pandemic, I know, has a lot of people out of work… they’ve closed up, they’ve laid people off. So this year, I felt like I really needed to do something.”
Esmond contact the utility authority and received the information for 114 customers who were in jeopardy of having their utility cut off.
And this is not the first time that he is doing this generous act. Last Christmas, he paid off 36 bills worth $4,600.
Esmond said that although he now owns a successful pool construction company, there was a time when he too had difficulties paying his utility bills.
“I found myself in a situation where I just couldn’t handle it,” he said. “So I decided not to pay the gas bill [once] because this is Florida, it doesn’t get cold. Boy, was I wrong about that because the winter I picked to have the gas shut off so I didn’t have any heat, turned out to be the coldest winter that Pensacola had ever experienced and it went down to 6 degrees,” he said.
Esmond’s gift did not only ease the burden for many families but also served as an inspiration to many. And the best news is that he wants nothing in return, only for the recipients to pay it forward.
“I don’t know how to put that in words, because I’m not a guy who’s ever really been involved in anything like this where I made people happy. I’m a guy who goes out and digs in the dirt and builds swimming pools,” he continued. “It’s just unbelievable.”
Neighbours will find out about his surprise gift in a Christmas card sent by the utility authority.