Energy efficient winter wonderland gifted to local hero

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo Writer: Paul Dolan

Florida Power & Light and the Florida National Guard teamed up to bring some holiday cheer to a veteran and his family.

The organizations made sure Justin Hessinger and his family’s Christmas was merry and bright.

The organization surprised the Hessinger family Monday afternoon with a winter wonderland.

FPL said their home is decorated with over 1,000 lights.

Decorations getting set up. CREDIT: WINK News

Charlotte Miller, the external affairs manager for FPL, spoke with WINK News about what they did.

“It’s very important to us that we recognize local heroes, and this family, Justin, and Leah and their family, our veterans, their trauma responders, and have given so much back to Port Charlotte,” Miller said.

Hessinger is a Florida National Guard member who came back from a 10-month deployment in the Middle East a couple of months ago.

Unfortunately, his wife and two kids missed him last Christmas.

“It’s good to be home for sure,” Hessinger said.

He’s also a Charlotte County Special Operations Firefighter.

Hessinger’s worked double shifts since Hurricane Ian while Leah, his wife, is a fellow first responder serving as a trauma nurse.

“Very deserving guy very deserving family does a lot for our department does a lot for the community does a lot for the country,” Tim Burke, the battalion chief with Charlotte County Fire and EMS said.

“We work with National Guard, and they helped us identify a family that might need a little bit of holiday cheer this season,” Miller said.

The organizations put together a blow-up military-style Santa Clause, solar-powered candy canes, and led holiday lights.

The result was an energy-efficient winter wonderland for Hessinger and his family.

Solar-powered candy canes. CREDIT: WINK News

But perhaps the most significant moment for Hessinger was still ahead.

Hugs, smiles, presents, and a huge sign thanking him for his service.

Hessinger and his family smiling together. CREDIT: WINK News

“I was quite shocked, to say the least,” Hessinger said. “This was an awesome surprise. I really was super excited. This was absolutely amazing. I think more than we could have imagined. I did not expect it.”

This was FPL’s fifteenth year of surprising deserving local heroes with holiday decorations.

The Hessinger family was one of eight they celebrated across Florida this year.

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