Customer Sammy Love was doing a little Thanksgiving shopping as Big Lots held its official grand opening Friday with much fanfare and a substantial gift to a local school.Love explained he was going to fry a turkey for the holiday and had been looking for a reasonably priced turkey fryer. "It was cheaper here," he said.Love had joined the gathering that included a number of local dignitaries as the store noted for discount name-brand merchandise held a ribbon cutting Friday morning. There was everything from cake in the company's signature orange to free mugs, hats, clocks and koozies, as well as a chance to join the company's "Buzz Club." Manager Darrell Hillman passed out gift cards worth $3 each to every customer entering the store during the grand opening event.District manager Dale Murphy explained, "We're proud to be part of this neighborhood," as he presented North Augusta Middle School Principal Barry Head with a check for $2,500 following the ribbon cutting.Head said, "Our school can definitely use the money with all the belt-tightening we're all having to do these days." He said the money would be used for technology "directly toward the students."Murphy deemed North Augusta "a phenomenal market." "Everyone has been incredibly gracious and welcoming," he said. He also reported that the North Augusta grand opening was one of 17 Big Lots to open on that day alone. "That brings us to more than 1,400 stores," he said proudly.Among the dignitaries attending the ribbon cutting were Mayor Lark Jones, Area 2 Assistant Superintendent Peggy Trivelas, Aiken County Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt, School Board members Keith Liner and Ray Fleming, City Councilman Jimmy Adams, County Councilmen Sandy Haskell and Willar Hightower.Also in attendance was Big Lots regional marketing manager Gary Schmidt.Big Lots is located next to Sunrise Grill in the old Kroger building on Martintown Road.Contact Phyllis Britt at editor@northaugustastar.com.