Sheriff deputy Darryl Malpass helps Isaiah Lopez, 2, of York with a toy at Target.
Sheriff deputy Darryl Malpass helps Isaiah Lopez, 2, of York with a toy at Target. (Bil Bowden photo)

Isaiah Lopez knew exactly what he wanted - everything with Thomas the Tank Engine on it.

"Bye-bye, Thomas," the 2-year-old from West York said to two puzzles as each was placed by a York County sheriff's deputy into a shopping cart at Target during a Shop with a Cop event Tuesday night.

Isaiah and his two older brothers were three of 10 underprivileged West York children to take part in the event, hosted by the borough's block watch, at the West Manchester Township store.

Members of the law enforcement community also accompanied eight students from the NHS Human Services autism school in West Manchester Township as they shopped for holiday gifts.

"It's just good to come back year after year to help the kids," said David Kahley, a West York Police patrolman.

Shopping spree: Isaiah's wanting for all things Thomas swayed a little as he picked out a plastic dump truck filled with building blocks.

"Mine," he said as he held up the toy to his father, Gerry Lopez.

But it wasn't long until he was back on the Thomas kick, finding a couple of books featuring the anthropomorphic character. Both books had buttons that triggered sounds, such as a train engine, when pushed by the boy.

"He's figured it out, and it'll drive us nuts," his mother, Heather Jackson, said.

The West York Block Watch, a volunteer-run organization that hosts a number of events in the borough, organizes the yearly Shop with a Cop.

Law enforcement officers from West York, York County Sheriff's Department and the county's adult and juvenile probation aided the children as they shopped.

Donations: The event was first organized by former West York Police patrolwoman Linda Diaz seven years ago. Though she retired from the police service, Ken Welsh, block watch vice president, said it was important to see that the tradition continues.

"She (Diaz) organized the thing seven years ago, and we want to see it keep going," he said. "That's what it's all about, seeing the kids happy."

Diaz, who helps out during the event each year, said some shoppers donated funds or paid for items on a whim when they learned of what the large crowd was doing at the store.

Each child had a stipend of $150 to spend on items. Donors from across the county, as well as a donor in Lancaster County, contributed funds toward the shopping sprees.

"The people that donate, they make it happen," Welsh said.

Saying thanks: Through its Toys for Tots program, the U.S. Marine Corps made bicycles available to children who took part in Shop with a Cop. Each family also received a Christmas dinner with all the fixings, Welsh said.

Families that have pets also received pet food through the borough's BARK (Borough Animal Response Krew) program, said Shelly Metzler, its founder and a borough councilwoman.

Amy Parker, education director at the autism school, said students prepared for their night of shopping by creating shopping lists. They also painted gourds and made thank you cards and cookies that were given to event organizers.

"This is exciting for us," Parker said. "It's a great opportunity for them."

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.