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Exchange Recognizes Academic Achievements of Military Students with $4,000 in Gift Cards

Exchange Recognizes Academic Achievements of Military Students with $4,000 in Gift Cards

Story by Alexandra Pirkle on 07/31/2019

DALLAS Mary Rita Kostas, 13, has had a busy summerfrom lifeguard camp to space camp to winning the grand prize in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s You Made the Grade sweepstakes.

Col. Robert Sylvester, 56th Mission Support Group commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, Exchange senior enlisted advisor, presented Mary with her prizea $2,000 Exchange gift cardin a ceremony July 25 at the Luke Air Force Base Exchange.

Mary, an eighth-grader at Veritas Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, is the only child of two retired Warfighters. Her dad, retired Marine Col. Gus Kostas, served for 28 years, deploying during Desert Storm as well as several times to Afghanistan and Iraq. Her mom, Jackie Kostas, is a retired Army lieutenant colonel with 21 years of service who also deployed to Iraq.

Mary says it’s important for military kids to support their parents during deployments.

“Military service can be tough for families,” Mary said. “I was sad while my dad was deployed, but talking to him on the phone made me feel better.”

The Exchange awarded second- and third-place prizes in the sweepstakes. Second-place winner, Gordon Goetz, a seventh-grader at Woodlawn Beach Middle School in Gulf Breeze, Fla., received a $1,500 gift card at the Hurlburt Field Exchange on July 26. He is the oldest son of retired Marine Corps Master Sgt. Gordon R. Goetz and wife Tetyana.

Third-place winner, Bree Dippold, earned a $500 gift card at the Shaw Air Force Base Exchange on July 30. A sixth-grader at Hillcrest Middle School in Sumter, S.C., Bree is the oldest daughter of Tech Sgt. Darrell Dippold and his wife, Ashley.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, the Exchange’s senior enlisted advisor, said the Exchange is thrilled to recognize high-achieving students.

“These dedicated scholars are an inspiration to military children around the world,” Reyes said. “The Exchange hopes these gifts show Mary, Gordon and Bree that hard work pays off.”

First- through 12th-graders who maintain a B average or higher can enter the sweepstakes for a chance at a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 Exchange gift card. Mary, Gordon and Bree were randomly selected from more than 1,000 entries.

Students can show their qualifying report cards to customer service at their local Exchange to receive a $5 gift card and sweepstakes entry form. Students can send You Made the Grade sweepstakes entry forms to:

You Made the Grade
PO Box 227398
Dallas, TX 75222-7398

Drawings are held in June and December.

Facebook-friendly version: Congratulations Mary, Gordon and Bree! These three excelling students earned high-dollar prizes in the Exchange’s You Made the Grade sweepstakes. Read more:

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Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) has gone where Soldiers, Airmen and their families go to improve the quality of their lives by providing valued goods and services at exclusive military pricing. The Exchange is the 62nd-largest retailer in the United States. Its earnings provided $2.3 billion in dividends to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs over the last 10 years. The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund entity of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors. The Exchange is a 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative Partner, planning and conducting events and activities that recognize the service, valor and sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans and their families in conjunction with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at


Media Notes:

For more information or to schedule an interview with an Exchange representative please contact Alexandra Pirkle, 214-312-2143 or

Follow the Exchange:
Instagram: @shopmyexchange

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