The holidays are a time for fun and cheer. They are synonymous with good fortune and being happy. That's what the movies want us to believe anyway. Everyone seems to be in such good spirits in Christmas movies, but that doesn't mean that everyone's having a good time on Christmas.
Christmas, and the other holidays around the end of the year, can also be incredibly stressful. The stress to provide presents and food for your family can be enough to send you into crippling doubt. Many people struggle to make ends meet regardless of the holidays. The holidays only make it that much harder.
It doesn't help that December is one of the colder months of the year, so it's the time of year where having heating on is especially important. For those families who are struggling with money, the heating bill may get missed. That's where Mike Esmond comes in - a man who helped pay for 36 families heating bills.
If you've ever struggled to pay for your heating bill, it's something that sticks with you for a long time. The feeling of helplessness and failure are hard to shake. It's something you never want anyone to have to deal with. That's what inspired Mike Esmond, the main subject of this story. It was decades ago, but at one point in his life Mike Esmon was unable to pay for his heating bill for his family. It was a record cold winter when his family of five was stuck without heat.
Esmond recounted the terrible experience to TODAY, ""It was the coldest winter Pensacola ever had. We didn't have any heat. Our windows had ice and icicles on it." The temperature was in the single digits. A nightmare for someone taking care of their family.
It was this holiday season that Mike Esmond was reminded of that cold Christmas from decades ago. He opened his gas and water bill and noticed the due date. It was December 26th. "That made something pop into my mind, that people have to pay these bills by Dec. 26. If they don't pay them, they're going to be disconnected, and they're not going have gas or water for the holidays."
Esmond decided he would take his good fortune as a 73-year-old successful business man and try to help those in need. He requested that the city of Gulf Breeze, Florida giveh im a list of people who were going to have their gas and water shut off by December 26th. They gave him a list of 36 families with overdue bills, totalling $4,600.
Mike Esmond thought that he would do his good deed and that would be the end of it, but the people at the power company had bigger plans. "When I did this, I didn't even know that the city was going to do what they did! The ladies in the billing department actually used their computers to make up a Christmas card and they sent it out to all the people that were expecting their gas to be disconnected."
The card read, "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." The families began reaching out to Esmond to thank him. The powerful thing about this story is that Esmond never wanted the recognition. He just wanted to make everyone's holidays a little warmer.