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By Paul Brucker
Alliant Credit Union gave 12 of its members a belated holiday gift by awarding them big money as part of its second annual “Happiest Holiday Ever Sweepstakes.”
From November 15, 2014, to January 15, 2015, each time members used their Alliant Visa® credit card or Alliant Visa® debit card to make a qualifying transaction, they earned one entry in the sweepstakes. There was no limit on the transaction amount or the number of entries they could earn as they used their card for everyday shopping, gas, groceries, online purchases, holiday gifts and more.
On January 30, 2015, 12 lucky winners were randomly selected – six for using their Alliant credit card and six for using their Alliant debit card.
Ida Spring, Foster City, CA, got her new Alliant credit card just a few months before she won her prize. “I was already happy with Alliant,” she says. “Now I feel doubly blessed.” At first, she was dubious about whether her bonanza was real even after Alliant sent her the official paperwork to claim the prize. So she visited Alliant’s San Mateo Branch.
“I like the people at the branch,” she says. “They are always so friendly, helpful and efficient. And I was thrilled when they verified that I had indeed won.”
The last time Ida won big was 38 years ago when she went to a party for the Interline Club, a group of people who worked for various airlines at the San Francisco International Airport. Ida worked for United Airlines and did accounting for its flight operations at the airport. She went to the party with her fiancé, Captain Cleve Spring, who flew for United. At the gathering, the couple won airfare to London. They soon used those tickets to fly to Jolly Old England for their honeymoon.
Now retired, Ida and Cleve are scouting around for a second home and are thinking of using the prize money to help pay for it. They already have their pre-approved mortgage in hand from Alliant.
Ida hopes she hasn’t used up all her luck by winning her Alliant’s Happiest Holiday grand prize. “While I am extremely grateful to have won this marvelous prize from Alliant, I will keep trying to win the Powerball lottery someday,” she says.
Paula Nadell, of Las Vegas, NV, says she had “never ever won anything.” Sure, she lives in Las Vegas. But she doesn’t like to gamble. When out-of-town friends visit and insist on going to a casino, Paula will bring along $20 – the maximum she will allow herself to lose. “On the nightly news, we’re constantly hearing about phone fraud,” she says, “so when I got a call from Alliant about my prize, I found it hard to believe.” Paula listened patiently to Alliant’s bearer of good news for 10 minutes. Still skeptical, she called Alliant the next day to verify – yes, indeed – she was a big winner.
"The prize couldn’t have come at a better time because I had a lot of bills to pay in January,” she says. Sadly, one bill was the cost to put down Purcilla, the sick 15-year old Persian Himalayan cat she had owned and loved since it was eight weeks old.
Paula became an Alliant member after she joined United Airlines in Los Angeles in 1974. She began as a cashier, became a greeter and then one of the first group of international concierges for United at the Los Angeles International Airport. In 1995, she transferred to Las Vegas and continued to work in customer service. Now retired, Paula spends a lot of her time helping to take care of her 92-year old father.
“I worked too hard for my money to have banks take away a lot of it by charging so many fees,” she says. “That’s why I primarily use Alliant. I love how easy it is to transfer money between my accounts. I also like the convenience of having some of my monthly bills paid through the automatic payments I set up at Alliant. Plus, I’ve relied on Alliant to finance five car purchases during the last 30 years, including the Lexus RX-350 SUV I drive now.”
Tom Gustafson, of Chicago, IL, says “I really enjoy everything about Alliant. I’ve only been a member for a few years, but every interaction I’ve had with staff has been outstanding. I can’t emphasize how great it feels (after decades of being a customer at large banks) to be part of an organization that doesn’t simply exist to profit off its members, but is actually there to serve them.”
Tom works in web development at Chicago’s Columbia College. “Wow, it’s been a long while since I won anything of note,” he says. “I plan on saving and investing a portion of the prize and also paying down some bills. Beyond that, I think a fun trip somewhere might be in order, as well.”
Geronna Fanelli, of Golden, CO, is a pilot for SkyWest Airlines and flies all over the United States and Canada. When she’s on the ground, she likes to ski, snowboard, rock climb, camp and garden. “I have a huge, beautiful garden in my backyard in the foothills of the Rockies,” she says. She plans to use her winnings as part of a down payment to purchase a home, preferably the house she now rents.
An Alliant member for about three years, she has used Alliant financing to buy a Subaru Outback and for a personal line of credit loan. “I’m really ecstatic that I won the money,” Geronna says. “I’ve never won anything before and this will go a long way toward helping me realize my dream of a house of my own.”
Megan Wenzel, of Westbury, NY, has worked in customer service for United Airlines at LaGuardia Airport for 30 years. She had glanced at a banner ad for the sweepstakes on Alliant’s website, but didn’t give it a second thought. “Winning contests is for other people, not me,” she says. “If I ever won anything before, it wasn’t much or memorable.”
The money will come in handy, she says, as she helps her husband, a telecommunications professional, cope with chemotherapy.
“I like Alliant because it’s so easy to do my banking there, including online banking, mobile banking and mobile check deposits,” she adds.