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Military Students Rewarded with $4,000 in Exchange Gift Cards for Academic Achievement

Military Students Rewarded with $4,000 in Exchange Gift Cards for Academic Achievement

Story by Alexandra Pirkle on 02/04/2019

DALLAS When Elias Lugo found out he was the grand-prize winner of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s worldwide You Made the Grade sweepstakes, he thought he was dreaming.

“I was shaking because I didn’t think I actually won,” he said.

Elias received his academic excellence prize, a $2,000 Exchange gift card, at a presentation Feb. 1 at the Fort Campbell Exchange.

Elias, 14, is the youngest son of retired Army Staff Sgt. Gerson Lugo and his wife, an Army Veteran, Sgt. Brandy Lugo. Staff Sgt. Lugo served 19 years, deploying to Afghanistan twice before retiring in 2017. Sgt. Lugo, a paralegal, separated from the Army in 2006.

Elias found out about his win when his father sent a text to the family’s group chat.

“As soon as Dad texted the group chat that I won, my brother asked me for $500,” Elias said.

Elias and his brother both entered the sweepstakes after their mother saw a previous winner’s announcement on the Exchange’s Facebook page.

“This was the first time we’ve entered,” she said. “We were very surprised [Elias won].”

The Exchange also awarded second- and third-place prizes in the sweepstakes. Second-place winner, Douglas Anderson IV, a first-grader at Patterson Road Elementary School in Orcutt, Calif., received a $1,500 gift card at the Vandenberg Air Force Base Exchange on Jan. 24. Douglas, 6, is the youngest son of retired Master Sgt. Douglas Anderson.

Third-place winner, Josephine Simmons, earned a $500 gift card at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Exchange on Jan. 18. Josephine, 10, is the daughter of Air Force Master Sgt. William Simmons, who has served for nearly 23 years.

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

“The Exchange is honored to reward these students for their academic excellence,” Reyes said. “Military children work hard to maintain their grades and succeed in school, and we hope these gifts show that their efforts paid 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. Elias, Douglas and Josephine were randomly selected from nearly 600 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:Three whiz kids ages 6 to 14 earned big bucks in the Exchange 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 61st-largest retailer in the United States. Its earnings provided $2.4 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 athttp://www.shopmyexchange.comor 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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