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Local Hero Does NOT Kill Children

Aaron Jackson, founder of Planting Peace -- a locally based nonprofit running orphanages in Haiti and shelters around the world -- says he does not "kill children." That's right, not even one. I've hung out with the man on several occasions, for extended periods of time, and as far as I can tell, he's not lying about this.

It's only really an issue because of a web copyediting mistake at the Orlando Sentinel. A few weeks ago, the Sentinel published a front-page story and Q&A with Jackson about Planting Peace's opening an office in nearby Clermont. The web headline has since been changed, but Jackson says the story was originally published under a headline "that basically said 'Local Hero Kills Children.'"

Jackson laughs about it now but says it was quite a hassle the day it happened. And it comes with the territory. (The territory of media attention, that is; New Times has written two cover stories about Jackson's work -- here and here -- and he was one of the original CNN Heroes.) Though he says he isn't completely relocating Planting Peace to Central Florida, he hopes the office there (close to the UCF campus) will help him find volunteers for the ever-expanding charity.

"We got a really good deal on property," Jackson told me from his new Clermont office -- the space is more than twice the size of the crammed apartment he was working out of in Dania Beach. "It's no more crammed-hippie apartment," he joked.

He's headed back to Haiti for a short stint. He says a documentary film crew will be shooting some of the work Planting Peace is doing there. If you're interested in helping out, Jackson says there will be a fundraiser at the Bubble in the next few weeks.

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Michael J. Mooney

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