As Lee Autrey, Walmart’s district manager, took to the podium during Thursday morning’s grand opening of Joplin’s new Neighborhood Market, he had a message for all those gathered for the occasion.

Brian Fronzaglia receives a check for $50,000 during the Neighborhood Market grand opening.

Brian Fronzaglia receives a check for $50,000 during the Neighborhood Market grand opening.

“I challenge this store to be the friendliest store in the area,” he said.

The store made a strong start to that challenge during the event, presenting monetary donations to the Boys & Girls Club, the Joplin Police Department and Fire Department, Children’s Miracle Network and Special Olympics. But the most sizable donation of the morning was presented to the music department at Missouri Southern.

Store manager Steve Hoag presented Interim Department Head Brian Fronzaglia with a check for $50,000 on behalf of the store and the Walmart Foundation.

Fronzaglia said the department was extremely grateful for the donation, which would go a long way toward purchasing new instruments.

“Everyone will see them during the first football game,” he said.

The event concluded with the Southern cheerleading squad joining the Joplin High School cheerleaders to lead the crowd in Walmart’s cheer.