Mike Esmond (ABC)

Dozens of Florida families who were at risk of having their water or gas shut off by Christmas got a wonderful surprise in the mail.

Mike Esmond, a generous Vietnam veteran who once spent Christmas without heat, decided to pay the utility bills of 36 families whose accounts were past due, a remarkable act of kindness that has stunned residents in the city of Gulf Breeze.

"I'm just in awe," one of the recipients, Angela GiGi, wrote on Facebook last week. "Sometimes I get discouraged with life hitting me from every angle and then there are people and companies like this that restore my faith."

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