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Business owner pays past-due utilities of 114 families

GULF BREEZE, Fla. — A business owner who says 2020 was a good financial year for his company has brought some Christmas spirit back to his community.

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Michael Esmond of Gulf Breeze, Florida, is the owner of Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas. Back in the 1980s, he was hit hard when his utilities were shut off.

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

At the time, it was the coldest weather he had experienced, with temperatures plunging to single digits, he remembered.

“We had ice and icicles hanging out the window inside the house,” Edmonds told ABC News last year.

He says he knows the struggle.

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So last year, he helped pay the overdue utility bills of 36 homes in Gulf Breeze. He paid $4,558, according to ABC News.

This year, he decided to do more, not only because of the coronavirus pandemic, but also Hurricane Sally.

Edmonds donated $7,615 to pay overdue bills this year.

He said that he could help more people this year, not only because he increased his donation, but also because many homes had bills that were less than $100.

The money first went to pay bills that were more than 60 days past due. The rest of the money was used to pay bills that were 30 days past due that also had a COVID-19 deferral.

“People can’t afford to pay their bills and put food on the table, so I hope doing my part and paying some bills for these folks takes a little bit of stress off of them around Christmastime,” Edmonds told CNN.


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