Gulfport businessman sending relief to Haiti

Gulfport businessman sending relief to Haiti

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The devastation from recent disasters is still widespread in the already impoverished country of Haiti.

Standing by and watching as the people of Haiti suffer is not something that Thomas Swarek could do. The Gulfport businessman found success in the oil business. Because of his faith, he wanted to use that success for good.

"'To much that is given, much is required,' that's a scary scripture for me," said Swarek.

Reviving an effort he started in the 80s, Swarek is hoping to fill a ship with food and send it to areas in Haiti desperate for relief. Swarek owns large swaths of farm land providing the effort with salvage grain, an extremely affordable food source, and much richer in nutrients than what is currently available to Haitians.

According to Swarek, everything has fallen into place, as if the plans were divine in nature.

"So it's a beautiful idea. It had to be God. I couldn't have thought of that. I couldn't have thought of something like this," Swarek said.

Swarek also has the help of other businessmen, namely, Gary Heavin, the founder of Curves and chairman of Jenny Craig. Heavin started helping in Haiti with medical and transportation needs five and a half years ago after an earthquake leveled the area.

Heavin says the need is greater than ever.

"The American military has left, the UN is about to leave and a million people have no crops in the ground and so we're moving from a disaster to a famine," Heavin said.

He and Swarek share the same drive of faith to make sure the people of Haiti have what they need.

"As a Christian, I think it's something that we're really called to do. So, I'm proud to be here in Mississippi. I've got a lot of friends in this state who are partnering with us to help feed these desperate people in Haiti," said Heavin.

People who, without similar efforts, may not have much hope to hold onto. The relief effort, aptly named Fill The Ship, is intended to continue well past the first shipment of grain. To find out more, visit the non-profit's website at

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