A Florida man is stepping up with a commendable act of mega-kindness.
Michael Esmond, a business owner in the state, is injecting some generosity into the headlines race by covering the utility bills of 114 families who were at risk of disconnection due to past dues. Speaking with CNN, the Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas owner—who last year helped pay the bills of 36 families—said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic made his ability to donate in 2020 all the more significant.
"This year to me probably is more meaningful that last year with the pandemic and all the people out of work having to stay home," the Gulf Breeze resident said. "Hurricane Sally slammed us pretty good and hurt a lot of people. We still have a lot of the blue roofs here, where they're just covered with tarps."
According to the report, which cites a city utility billing supervisor, Esmond gave $7,615.40 to pay for the past-due bills of 114 households. To inform affected residents, holiday-themed cards will hit the mail this week. Speaking further on his inspiration this year, Esmond noted that he felt "almost ashamed" of the fact that his business "had a good year" despite 2020's consistently dire circumstances for many.
"And that's why I want to share what I have with the people who need it," added Esmond, who recalled a moment earlier in his life during which his own hard times included his utilities being shut off.
Disbursement of Esmond's donation went first to those who were 60 days past due, with the remaining balance then going to those who were more than 30 days past due and had a pandemic-related deferral.