Good Samaritan pays off delinquent utility bills of total strangers for Christmas

Northwest Florida

GULF BREEZE, Fla. (WKRG) — In Gulf Breeze, Santa Claus maybe moonlighting as a pool guy.

“This is what I do for a living.” For the last couple of years, just before Christmas, owner of Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas Mike Esmond has paid off the delinquent utility bills of total strangers. “I don’t know a word in the dictionary to really describe that feeling,” Esmond said.

Kimberly Haywood has a couple of words: “It took me by surprise. I was really shocked.”

She is one of the 114 people who instead of getting a bill got a holiday card from the city that read in part: “It is our honor and privilege to inform you your past due utility bill has been paid.”

“It is such a holiday blessing to know that that is one less thing you have to worry about this holiday season,” Haywood said.

This year, the bill came to $7,615. “I’ll be honest with you, I thought it would be a little bit more.” Esmond says because of the pandemic and Hurricane Sally taking out Three Mile Bridge, a tough year has been made even tougher. “The McDonalds is closed down. There’s other businesses that have closed down and cut back,” Esmond says describing Gulf Breeze. “It’s a ghost town.”

He’s received emails and phone calls of gratitude. He has even been called an inspiration but that’s not why he does it. “I lived it,” he says. “I know what it’s like and that’s why I wanted to help people so they don’t have to go through that.”

Mike Esmond may have just saved Christmas for more than a hundred families, and next year he says if he’s able, he’ll do it again.

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