Samantha Kegel (R) poses with her grandmother, Jodie Kegel.  They are getting ready for their traditional Christmas giving.  (Andy Blackburn/Staff Photo)

It was the excitement of a little girl and her dreams for a certain Christmas present that brought out a generous spirit in people around Lancaster County this week.

Offers of gifts, meals, and financial support came rolling in after the story of 3-year-old Angelina Johnson-Hatton was published. She is an example of just one of as many as 3,000 children around Lancaster County who have a parent in local, state or federal prison.

Those potential donors are encouraging other people to give as well.

All donations of gifts and other support will be handled by the non-profit, Ambassadors4Hope who have been pushing county commissioners to adopt a program for an advocate who would track children whose parents are in jail, making sure they are getting the services they need.

Ambassadors for hope can be reached at

The proposal for a child services advocate will be considered by the board of commissioners Wednesday.

Angelina was jumping excitedly during her interview for the Sunday News story with the thought of getting a Disney Frozen ice castle for Christmas.

Meanwhile her mother, Andrea, had a job and other necessities on her mind after her husband and family's breadwinner was incarcerated in West Chester.

Sharon Wiker of Mount Joy, said her family read the article and were inspired to provide Christmas presents to the three children in the Johnson-Hatton family who were featured in the story.

Many other people called and emailed the newspaper offices with offers to help, especially to provide one special little lady with the Frozen Ice Castle of her dreams.

"My family was touched by the family in the article, and would like to help them to have a good Christmas. What we would like to do, is provide some gifts for the entire family, as well as provide the needed groceries for them to make a Christmas meal. And of course the frozen castle the little girl is wishing for," said Greg Price of Ephrata.

"I tell my children that Christmas is not your birthday, it's not about getting everything you want," said Wiker, who has involved her three girls in giving projects over the years.

"I feel good about giving," said 11-year-old Abbie Wiker.

"We may not be the richest family in the world, but my kids have a mom and dad and a place to live and food to eat, while there are others who just don't have access to that kind of thing," Wiker said.

Her 14-year-old daughter, Josie, agreed.

"Christmas is about sharing and giving and not being selfish," she said.

"When the little girl said she was so excited about getting the Ice Castle, it just hit our hearts," said 66-year-old Agnes Pack, of Lancaster.

She said her husband Arnie, also 66, of Lancaster, has a generous heart for people in need.

"It's not easy. My son and daughter-in-law are raising two girls, with both of them working it's hard," said Agnes. "A single mom, it's even harder. Anything that we can do."

Agnes said when the couple was younger, they struggled and remember what it's like and they wanted to help out another young family, like the one featured in the Sunday News story.

"It just broke my heart," said Nancy Sauer of Manheim Township. "It was a heartfelt story, this little kid wants a Disney Frozen ice castle. If it's OK with the mom, I would like to get that for her. I'm a faithful reader of the newspaper but this is the first time I ever responded to a story like that."

Sauer, 61, said she would be willing to donate money as well.

"I was half bawling, to be honest with you," she said. "If I can help someone smile, I will."

Jodie Kegel of Lancaster was also "touched" by the story and said it's a great opportunity for people to be inspired to give to others.

With her grandaughters, Kegel fills a jar each year with coins and bills and gives it anonymously to someone, not just in financial need, but possibly in emotional need, someone who needs to know that there is hope and that others care.

She said she was inspired by the book "The Christmas Jars," by Jason F. Wright.

The book tells the story of a married couple who save up money for Christmas in a household jar. They split the money each year to buy each other gifts. When their children come along, they split it into more portions.

It was their young daughter who gave the jar away to a woman in need that inspired the entire family to change the way they thought about Christmas.

Kegel has a jar filled up this year and will decide with, her grandaughters, where to give it.

In the meantime, Kegel encourages giving to children of incarcerated parents.

Samantha Kegel, 17, her grandaughter also thinks it's great.

"I read the article and I think it can be an awful situation for a family but the children should not be penalized. I hope they get a good Christmas."

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