Florida Man Pays Off Overdue Utility Bills for 114 Families

Michael Esmond runs Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas, but is also taking a run at Florida’s greatest Secret Santa. The 74-year-old business owner and veteran had an incredibly generous gift for 114 families this year in Gulf Breeze, a suburb in Pensacola hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to flooding and damage from Hurricane Sally. As an incredible holiday gesture, Esmond paid off the overdue utility bills for these families, helping to lighten their burden this Christmas.

Esmond imparted a similar gesture last year when he donated $4,600 to pay off the utility bills of families in the area. This year he increased it considerably, paying out a total of $7,615 to protect those at risk of losing their heat, gas, and electric service – with some families literally primed for a shutoff on the day after Christmas. As before, those families will receive a special holiday card from their utilities company revealing Esmond’s gift, in lieu of a bill.

Esmond’s act of charity comes at a time of great need, difficulty, and frustration for countless families. The city of Gulf Breeze even granted extensions to overdue accounts to offer those families more leeway during this time. Esmond’s check was first directed towards those who were more than 60 days past due, most at threat of cutoff even with that extension in place.

Philanthropy, charity, giving voluntarily and freely... call it what you like, but it is truly a jewel of an American tradition. - John F. Kennedy

Great actions often reveal great empathy, which is certainly the case with Michael Esmond. The business owner himself experienced a struggle with paying his own utility bills, which were shut off back in the 80s for non-payment, during a cold winter and while raising three daughters. His meaningful and mindful generosity will ensure that others avoid that same experience.

Paying it forward to those in need is something that Esmond hopes will take off and circulate as a result of his gesture. He also claims that, in spite of 2020’s challenges, business was good overall for Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas: “We’ve had a good year, and that’s why I want to share what I have with the people who need it.”

If others came to that same realization and then acted upon it, the world would be a better place.

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