"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," Mike Esmond told the Pensacola News Journal.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
December 20, 2019
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Lending others a helping hand is even more meaningful when you've been in their shoes.

Such was the case for 73-year-old Gulf Breeze, Florida resident and caring neighbor, Mike Esmond, as the Pensacola News Journal reported. Back in the winter of 1983, the then-Pensacola resident couldn't afford to pay his utility bills. As a result, the heat and power in the home he lived in with his three daughters were cut off. During that time, the coldest recorded Christmas Day in history occurred—9°F—certainly making the holidays quite bleak for Esmond and his family.

Fast forward to 2019. Since Esmond knows all too well what it's like not to have heat in the bitter cold winter months, he decided to reach out to the city of Gulf Breeze to obtain a list of all utility accounts that were overdue and ran the risk of having their gas and water turned off. In total, there were 36 households in the Pensacola suburb in this situation. Esmond now runs a successful business, Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas, and can afford to make a difference in those struggling to pay their bills. He paid off all 36 bills— which amounted to around $4,600.

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"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 Pensacola 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."

The city of Gulf Breeze sent out notes to all of the households, informing them that Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas had picked up their bills for the month. One such recipient of the kind gesture, Angela Cascio told the Pensacola News Journal via a Facebook message just how much Esmond's help meant to her: "Without (Gulf Breeze Pools) paying that bill, my kids' Christmases would have greatly suffered. Angels absolutely walk among us, and they are the epitome of kindness and what 'paying it forward' means to me."