Man Pays Past Due Bills For 114 Families Who Could Lose Utilities At Christmas

Last year, Michael Esmond of Gulf Breeze, Florida decided to spread a little bit of cheer for the holidays and paid the utility bills for 36 local families.

This year, after Hurricane Sally and COVID-19 hit his community particularly hard, he wanted to do even more.

As the owner of Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas, Esmond said that unlike many businesses, he's had a really good year.


More people staying home probably meant more business for him.

"We've had a good year, and that's why I want to share what I have with the people who need it," he told CNN.

Last year, he wrote a check for $4,600; this year, it was $7,615.40.


However, since many of the overdue payments were less than $100, it meant his money went toward many more individual bills.

While the city has allowed an extra 60-day grace period for utility bills during the pandemic, Esmond realized that for many families, that 60 days was going to be up the day after Christmas.

With that in mind, he worked with the utility department to ensure that his money was put towards those families first.


Any remaining balance was put towards families that were over 30 days past due.

All in all, a total of 114 families received cards instead of billing notices in their mailboxes.

This particular cause is important to Esmond, because he's previously been without utilities in the winter.


Back in the 1980s, he couldn't afford to pay and his gas was shut off, leaving him without heat during what turned out to be one of the coldest winters he's ever experienced in Florida. Temperatures got down into the single-digits that year.

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

h/t: CNN

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