Florida man who once spent Christmas without power pays off 36 families’ utility bills

This Happy Holidays card from the City of Gulf Breeze was sent to 36 families whose utility bills were paid off ahead of Christmas instead of potentially having their power shut off. (City of Gulf Breeze)


A Florida man who once knew what it was like to spend Christmas without heat and electricity decided to help three dozen families out this holiday season who were in danger of going through the same thing.

Mike Esmond, who now runs a successful small business in Gulf Breeze, went to the city utility company to get a list of delinquent accounts, and arranged to pay off their bills, according to a report in the Pensacola News Journal.

The newspaper reported Esmond spent December 1983 in the dark and cold with his three daughters, a year the temperatures fell to 9 degrees on Christmas day.

The 73-year-old runs Gulf Breeze Pools and Spa, and through that company, the bills of 36 families totaling $4,600 were paid off. Instead of a past due notice or threat of utilities being shut off, the families received a Happy Holidays card, the paper reported.

“It is our honor and privilege to infor you that your past due utility bill has been paid by Gulf Breeze Pools and Spa,” reads the card. “You can rest easier this holiday season knowing you have one less bill to pay.”

“I wanted to do something that I felt would really help people at Christmas time who are trying to decide between paying bills and maybe having something cut off, or buying presents for their family,” Esmond told the News Journal. “When I got my utility bill this month, I noticed that it said the cutoff date was Dec. 26, so I went to the city and asked how many people were going to have their gas or water shut off before Christmas, so they gave me the numbers and I paid them.”

Orlando Sentinel
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