The season of giving back is in the air.
Florida Power and Light Company has celebrated this annual holiday tradition of giving back to local heroes for 15 consecutive years. With the help of the Denis V. Cooper Foundation, a Sarasota veteran and his family received a holiday surprise to remember.
Carlos Moreira spent more than 15 years on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps plus three years as a reservist before enrolling at University of South Florida. Since retiring from military service, Carlos has continued to give back as a veteran services administrator at USF’s Military and Veterans' Success Center.
“I was a student at USF and Carlos helped me out a lot with G.I. Bill and the benefits. My dad was in the military and I’m a dependent. I met Carlos through the USF Veterans Success Center. He got me a job as a work study,” said USF alumna Madison McMahon. "He's involved in everything. He is a great person to have on your side."
With the help of Carlos’ wife, Rayne Moreira,the Denis V. Cooper Foundation and Florida Power and Light was able to show how appreciative they are of Carlos and his heart of helping veterans, the nation and the community.
”FPL reached out to us and asked us to nominate a vet. I asked some people. We work with veteran organizations all throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties. I knew Carlos, but I didn’t think about it, however, he was mentioned by other people. So, we nominated Carlos to FPL, then FPL reached out to his wife, who kept it a secret and worked with her to make sure he wasn’t home so we could do this,” said Maverick Johnson, founder of the Denis V. Cooper Foundation.
FPL and USF volunteer “elves” started going to work converting his front yard into a winter wonderland.
After two hours of dedicated light decorating, The “elves” waited for Carlos, Rayne and two children Carlos Jr. and Miguel Moreira to arrive home.
When the Moreira family arrived, Carlos was in disbelief. He jumped out of his vehicle with a big smile as his coworkers and FPL volunteers cheered ‘woohoo' and 'Carlos, Carlos, Carlos.'
The FPL and USF "elves" gifted Carlos Jr. and Miguel toys right after the grand arrival.
"I'm shocked even though I was in on the surprise," said Rayne Moreira
"When I saw that all my security cameras were off, I was like, 'what's going on?' said Carlos Moreira as he lifted his eyebrow toward his wife. "At the end of the day, it's about helping people. The more you help people the more you help your community without thinking about it."
With a smile, Carlos says that now he doesn't have to do the decorating.