The Washington Post

Santa’s sleigh may be heavier this year

Thanksgiving 2011 for the troops at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. (Reuters)

For example, back on July 12, the Air Force put out a solicitation for companies to chip in for a “Christmas celebration at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.”

We’re guessing this location is pretty close to Bagram air base near Kabul.

“This is a perfect event to let our military men and women know you care and are thinking about them as they serve our country in a remote part of the world,” the solicitation said.

The Air Force said it was looking for 500 or so T-shirts “to help support this event. Your sponsorship will make a huge impact on those serving.” Perhaps knowing their target office, the Air Force folks noted that “sponsorship recognition can include company logo on event T-shirts and mention on all advertisements.”

This should have been pretty easy, given the billions and billions of dollars U.S. companies have made in supplying the war Afghanistan. After all, we’re only talking a donation that would cost maybe a few thousand bucks, tops.

But the original response deadline to the solicitation was Sept. 28 and it appears no one stepped up. Then Nov. 7 there’s a notation that the bidding process was “closed no sponsors.”

The next day, however, International Armored Group in St. Augustine, Fla., which makes armored vehicles, came through and agreed to pony up for the T-shirts.

“We saw the sponsorship opportunity online and immediately thought it was a great way to show the troops our support,” said Sean Wang, the company’s business and marketing director. “It was really a no-brainer decision for us.”

So Santa’s heading over in an armor-plated sleigh. The reindeer better start pumping iron quick.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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