Army Vet Pays Off Past-Due Utility Bills in Florida City
An Army veteran rewarded by the Planters peanut company for being a good Samaritan is continuing his efforts to help others in Gulf Breeze, Florida.
Over the past two Christmas seasons, Mike Esmond donated roughly $12,000 to pay off past-due utility bills for people in his Florida Panhandle community.
In March, Planters sent Esmond a check for $104,000 for his good deeds as part of the company’s “A Nut Above” campaign.
Since then, the Army vet has continued to help with past-due utility bills, paying off balances for 677 accounts.
“In other words, I paid everybody’s past-due account for a while, about March to August, like six months straight,” Esmond said. “Nobody that had their utilities, Gulf Breeze utilities, had anything disconnected.”
Esmond has donated more than $96,000 over the past three years.
“I’ve had some older, retired people call me crying on the phone, because I paid their bills, because they live on Social Security, and they don’t know what’s going on,” Esmond said. “So it’s not only families. There’s older single people that you know, are in this predicament also.”
Esmond said he was inspired to help with utility bills because of his economic experience in the 1980s.
“I was raising three daughters and my wife and I would run around at night with this little plug-in electric heater in the rooms trying to give them a little bit of heat,” Esmond said.
And for that reason, Esmond said he’ll likely continue the Christmas donations as long as he can afford to.