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REPORT: Florida Man Pays More Than 100 Utility Bills For Struggling Families

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A Florida business owner who is no stranger to tough times reportedly paid the utility bills for 114 struggling families.

Michael Esmond began paying it forward in 2019 when he covered utility bills for 36 families in the Gulf Breeze community, according to CNN. Esmond once had his gas shut off for an entire winter season in the 80’s, prompting him to help others who are in a similar position.

“I have been down on my luck like people are today, where I had trouble paying bills and raising three daughters,” Esmond told CNN. “The gas company shut the gas off and we didn’t have any heat.”

Esmond spent $4,600 in 2019 to cover the bills to make Christmas a little “happier” and “take a little bit of stress out,” according to the report.

He is back at it again this year.

“This year to me probably is more meaningful that (sic) last year with the pandemic and all the people out of work having to stay home,” Esmond told CNN.  “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.”

Esmond shelled out $7,615.40 to cover past-due bills for 114 households, the city’s utility billing supervisor Joanne Oliver said, according to the report. Oliver said the city is giving customers a longer grace period before turning off their water, gas and sewer services.

“We’re not cutting customers off. We’re not disconnecting them for nonpayment until they are more than 60 days past due,” she said, according to CNN. (RELATED: UPS And FedEx To Prioritize COVID Vaccine Over Holiday Gifts)

Esmond’s check reportedly covered the bills for those who passed the 60-day mark.

Owner of Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas, Esmond said business was good for him this year, so he thought it was best to share some of the wealth with other people who need it.

Esmond said he was able to help out more families this year because many had bills that were under $100.

“That really impacted me – that people can’t even afford to pay a $100 bill on their utilities and things are so bad,” he said, according to CNN. “That’s why I was able to pay for 114 families.”