77th National Donut Day: Salvation Army’s Sweet History of Serving Vets

Today is the 77th annual National Donut Day, a holey day for sweets lovers and an essential holiday for The Salvation Army.

This annual celebration was started as a fundraiser by The Salvation Army in Chicago during the Great Depression as a way to honor our military veterans and commemorate the work of Salvation Army volunteers who used the tasty confection to comfort American soldiers in France and Germany during World War I.

Volunteers a.k.a. "Donut Lassies" serving up the sweet treat to soldiers during WWI.

Volunteers a.k.a. “Donut Lassies” serving up the sweet treat to soldiers during WWI.

Donuts were not the reason Salvation Army workers were in the fighting zones of France; those men and women were there primarily to give spiritual aid and comfort to the American soldier and his allies. But as the young soldiers faced physical and emotional peril amidst the fighting, female Salvation Army officers Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance came up with the idea to comfort the soldiers with good home cooking, using limited ingredients and resources to fry up delicious doughnuts for the boys.

These female volunteers, earning the nickname “Donut Lassies” and “Donut Girls,” fried the donuts in solders’ helmets, and served these treats to grateful troops, a tradition that carried on to both World War II and the Vietnam War. WWI_Doughnut_Girl

Though that war has come and gone, the donut has since been a long-standing symbol of the services and comfort The Salvation Army provides. To this day, The Army continues to provide comfort with coffee and donuts to survivors and emergency responders who need support on the scene of disaster, and serves approximately 60 million meals to Americans each year.

To support The Salvation Army’s services, including hunger relief and continued support for veterans, please visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org to donate. You can also ‘Like’ Entenmann’s Bakery on Facebook. Until June 30, for every new ‘Like’, the company is donating $1 to The Salvation Army, up to $30,000! You can also enter their sweepstakes to win free donuts for a year and become the office hero. Enter your name here.

Many popular donut chains, like Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Tim Horton’s, and Thornton’s are celebrating by offering Free Donuts throughout the day on Friday. Additionally, Salvation Army locations nationwide will be celebrating by handing out free donuts. Find a location near you by visiting www.salvationarmyusa.org.

What’s your favorite donut? Tell us at @SalvationArmyUS #NationalDonutDay.