Patrick Benzing, 22, of Phoenixville, was the winner of the "Citadel VIP Shopping Spree," a contest sponsored by Citadel Federal Credit Union and Exton Square Mall.

According to Erin Krueger, public relations for Citadel Federal Credit Union, the "Citadel VIP Shopping Spree" contest was held in conjunction with Citadel's annual sponsorship of the "Santa set" during the holiday season at the Exton Square Mall. Krueger said Citadel Federal Credit Union has a partnership with the Exton Square Mall.

"Through our partnership, we've run several contests with them," said Krueger. "This particular contest drew a lot of responses."

Totally unaware of the contest, Benzing said it was actually his brother, Chris, that filled out the entry form in his name.

"My brother filled one out for everyone in the family - himself, my mom and for me," said Benzing. "I certainly got lucky there."

In mid-January, Benzing said he was notified by Citadel Credit Union officials via phone regarding his winning entry.

"The management at Citadel contacted me and told me that I won," he said. "I wasn't sure what they were talking about because I hadn't entered the contest. We weren't sure if this was real or not until we got some questions answered by Citadel."

A week after the phone call, Citadel's Phoenixville Retail Manager Lisa Allison presented Benzing $1,000 in Exton Square mall certificates.

"Through Citadel's community involvement, we have been able to make a difference in peoples lives," said Allison. "The 'Santa set' and the 'VIP Shopping Spree' were exciting events that brought Citadel closer to the community."

Benzing, upon receiving the certificates, said, "I feel very lucky to have won the shopping spree. It could not have happened at a better time."

Since receiving the certificates, Benzing said he's purchased a new skateboard, some clothes and a few CDs.

"I shop at Exton Mall once in a while," he said. "I go to Sam Goody and FYE. Actually, I gave some certificates to my mom and brother. I could've used some of this money for Christmas shopping. I also gave some of the certificates back to Citadel so I could receive some funds for college."

Currently working at Frank's Nursery in Exton, Benzing said he plans on attending Pennsylvania School of Technology for horticulture.

Krueger said Citadel has plans for many exciting activities at the mall over the coming year.

"We're working on several of them right now," she said. "We've started working on one for the spring. We like to keep things exciting and not a lot of overkill."

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