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Florida man pays off utility bills for 114 families facing disconnection

And it's not the first time this small business owner has helped keep the season bright.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

GULF BREEZE, Fla. — A Florida business owner is spreading holiday cheer during a year where the highs and reasons to smile feel slim for those hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Michael Esmond is here to help alleviate some of those hardships by covering the utility bills of 114 families facing disconnection, according to CNN. 

The news outlet spoke with Esmond, who knows what it feels like to be down on his luck, about his generosity for the second year running. 

"This year to me probably is more meaningful than 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."

In total, Esmond is said to have spent $7,615.40 to help his community keep their lights on. 

The secret Santa was able to more than triple the number of families he helped this year from the 36 families he paid it forward to in 2019.

The 74-year-old small business owner relates to these families as he and his three daughters spent a Christmas in 1983 without heat and power for the same reason as those he is helping-- the bills were just too much.

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

Esmond was glad to help where he could as he says Hurricane Sally "slammed" his community and the sight of blue tarped roofs are still scattered across Gulf Breeze. 

Here's to helping others this holiday season!

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