Published January 22, 2005
In business, Mitch Goldstone has always subscribed to a theory he calls “fire, ready, aim.”
Which is fitting, given that the camera store owner’s latest volunteer venture involves the military.
It is called Operation Photo.
“I’m going to raise 10,000 digital cameras for distribution to military families across the U.S. by Valentine’s Day,” Goldstone said.
Many of the cameras will come from consumers, but some will be donated by manufacturers. Goldstone said Eastman Kodak Co. and Olympus Corp. are participating.
Most of the cameras will be used but refurbished. The type of camera doesn’t matter. It only matters that it works.
“These digital cameras will go to military families here [in America] so they can take pictures of their families and send [them] to their loved ones overseas,” Goldstone said. “I want people to open their appliance drawers, pull out their older digital cameras and share them with the families.”
An organization called Operation Home Front (www.operationhomefront.net), which supports military families, will distribute the donated cameras.
Goldstone said he started the program about two weeks ago and has received about 225 cameras so far.
“But about 75 percent of the e-mails I’ve received about this are from families asking how they can get a camera,” he said.
Those who donate a camera will receive a receipt “to write off the value of their camera.”
And Goldstone is also throwing in another goodie for donors: a $25 online gift certificate for his camera store’s site (www.30minphotos.com).
But Goldstone insisted Operation Photo is about doing the right thing, not about marketing.
“Would it be nice if 10,000 people who donate their digital cameras become customers?” he asked. “Sure. But I’m not sophisticated enough to know if I will get 10,000 new customers by Valentine’s Day. I do know I’m going to get 10,000 digital cameras by Valentine’s Day, though.”
And if recent history is any indication, he’s probably right.
Soon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Goldstone organized a gathering of 5,000 business people from across the country to travel to New York in a symbolic effort to revitalize that city’s economy (details and photos at www.epiccusa.com).
And with attendance at the Olympic Games lagging last year, he put together SupportTheGames.org, an initiative to encourage American spectators to travel to Athens.
The programs were considered successful, and Goldstone expects Operation Photo to be no different.
Article originally published in the Chicago Tribune, link no longer available