SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — A U.S. Marine veteran and his family are decked out for the holidays after being chosen for Florida Power and Light’s 15th annual Holiday Hero Lighting program.
“I started seeing more people at the house,” recalled Carlos Moreira. “I just cannot stop smiling.”
Hours of decoration by nearly two dozen USF and FPL volunteers on November 30 led the moment when Moreira, the veteran, was surprised by friends, colleagues and family with a fully decorated house for Christmas.
“I’m not used to getting this for me,” Moreira said. “I’m used to doing this for other people, so it’s definitely different.”
The decorations include a blow up military Santa Claus, small snowmen with lights, candy canes, and lights wrapped around everything. FPL says everything is energy efficient, from the LEDs in the lights, to the solar-powered candy canes, to the timers turning everything on and off.
“Carlos being ex-military has served our country,” said Devany Iglesias. “But he’s still serving our community every day, which made him a perfect candidate for this surprise.”
Moreira was on active duty for more than 15 years, in the reserves for three, then enrolled at USF. Since retiring, he works at USF’s Military and Veteran’s Success Center.
“I’m just as shocked,” said Wynika Moreira, Carlos’s wife. “Even though I was in on the surprise.”
Wynika helped keep the secret with FPL. She even turned off the security cameras at the house so the volunteers could decorate.
“He’s a great person,” Wynika Moreira said. “He doesn’t think of himself and so this was amazing that everyone could band together and actually do something for him. I’m so proud of him, I continue to be proud of him.”
FPL also got the Moreira’s two boys a basketball, hoop and other toys.
“At the end of the day, it’s about people helping people,” Carlos Moreira said. “The more you help people the more you help your community without thinking about it.”
FPL did use their bucket truck to get some of the lights on the branches of the Moreira’s trees — they said they’ll be back in January to help them take it all down.