There are many angels walking among us – people who selflessly give to others and show compassion that seems otherworldly. Michael Esmond is one of those people.
When Esmond received his utility bill in the mail, he quickly remembered a winter that he and his family spent without heat. Years ago, his family had fallen on hard times and were unable to pay their bills. This year, however, the pool installation company owner felt so grateful to not have to worry about that anymore.ABC News Source: ABC News
Feel overwhelmed with gratitude, Esmond got to thinking. The 73-year-old Gulf Breeze, Florida resident decided he wanted to share some of his wealth this year and got the idea to “take a little bit of stress out” of the winter season for some of his neighbors.
Esmond called the City of Gulf Breeze and asked the clerk if he could help pay off any bills that were past due.
What really triggered this amazing act of kindness was when Esmond noticed the due date of his utility bill – December 26th. If the bill wasn’t paid by that date, all of the utilities would be cut. It struck a chord very close to home.
“This actually happened to me back in the 80s,” he told BBC News. “We actually had the gas shut off the whole entire winter.”
That winter happened to be one of the coldest winters on record in Pensacola, Florida, where he lived at the time.
When Gulf Breeze’s utility billing supervisor, Joanne Oliver, her about Esmond’s request to pay off people’s bills – she broke down in tears.
BBC Source: BBC
“For someone like him, a veteran to come in and do some grand gesture. It was heartfelt for me,” she said.
All in all, Esmond paid $4,600 to help 36 families in his community of 6,000 residents.
Esmond thought he was doing this kind gesture anonymously but what he didn’t know was that the city of Gulf Breeze sent out holiday cards to every family that he helped. Inside the card was a message that read:
Fox 6 Source: Fox 6
“It is our honor and privilege to inform you that your past due utility bill has been paid by Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas. You can rest easier this holiday season knowing you have one less bill to pay.”
Since word got out that it was Esmond who paid off these utility bills for deserving families, he’s become a bit of a local ‘good deed celebrity.’
“I think I really struck a nerve with a lot of people. People don’t realize that there are people right now that don’t have heat and electricity and everything in their house and their going to go through Christmas without that,” Esmond told BBC. “My phone hasn’t stopped ringing with text messages and emails for days now.”
What makes his gesture even more incredible is that many of the people he’s heard from are promising to “pay it forward” and do other charitable acts – causing a snowball effect of kindness.
“It’s just mind-boggling to me,” he says.ABC News Source: ABC News
As for next year? Esmond is already thinking about what he can do to help others, however, he won’t be paying utility bills. Even though his act of kindness was overwhelmingly appreciated, he doesn’t want people to take advantage of this kindness.
“People say ‘are you going to do this again next year’, and my reply to them is, if people knew I was going to do this nobody would pay their bill.
“They’d all wait for me to pay it,” he chuckled. “I’ll have to think up something.”
Watch more about Esmond’s inspiring story in the video below.
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