• Charity Batman: How an ex-felon changed his life by creating an organization to help kids

    By: Angela Jacobs and Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - The nonprofit A Hero For Kids describes itself as a "veteran-founded, all-volunteer organization" that collects backpacks, books, school supplies and more for children at Central Florida schools.

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    John Kalish is the man behind the Batman mask. He dresses as the superhero at charity events.

    Kalish is also an ex-felon, according to WFTV. He was convicted in 2007 with illegally transporting multiple firearms that included an AR-15. 

    It's a past that holds a prison sentence and convictions for check forgery and grand theft in the 1980s and '90s.

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    Kalish told WFTV that he is not proud of that list, but it no longer defines him. 

    "I've been truthful about my past, not in an attempt to hide it, but, quite frankly, it didn't involve violence or children. It was truly a mistake. I started volunteering and just the volunteering became a passion," Kalish said. 

    Kalish has collected thousands of books and supplies for kids. The foundation's involvement has included support from agencies, including the Orange County Sheriff's Office and the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, which recently donated a $2,000 sponsorship.

    The Osceola Sheriff's Office said it will continue to support A Hero For Kids, hailed for making a positive difference in the community.

    "I think if everybody comes together and does something, regardless of your past, that you can actually make a difference," Kalish said.

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