The Salvation Army To Celebrate National Donut Day on June 3rd

For many Americans the donut is as much a part of Americana as baseball and apple pie. But where does the donut’s popularity come from?

A 'donut lassie' at a Los Angeles area National Donut Day event.

A ‘donut lassie’ at a Los Angeles area National Donut Day evcent.

In 1917, The Salvation Army began a mission to provide spiritual and emotional support for U.S. soldiers fighting in France during World War I.  About 250 volunteers traveled overseas and set up small huts located near the front lines where they could give soldiers clothes, supplies and baked goods.

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”Nicknamed “donut lassies,” the women who served donuts to troops are often credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when troops returned home from war.”[/quote]

After discovering that serving baked goods would be difficult considering the conditions of the huts and the limited rations, two volunteers – Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance – began frying donuts in soldiers’ helmets.  These tasty treats boosted morale and won the hearts of many soldiers.

World War I - Uniforms (Side View)Nicknamed “donut lassies,” the women who served donuts to troops are often credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when troops returned home from war.  As the soldiers returned, they brought with them stories of the donuts supplied to them by The Salvation Army in France.  These soldiers were given the nickname, “doughboys.”  After only a few years, the donut had become part of American culture.

The Salvation Army celebrated the first National Donut Day in Chicago in 1938 to help raise money during the Great Depression and commemorate the work of the “donut lassies” who fed the tasty pastry to American soldiers and made the donut what it is today.  The donut now serves as a symbol of all the social services the Salvation Army provides to those in need.  The Salvation Army serves donuts, in addition to warm meals and something to drink, to those in need during times of disaster.

“National Donut Day has become a true American tradition in which the Salvation Army WWI_Doughnut_Girlasks the general public to remember those who fought in World War I, as well as their neighbors who may have fallen on hard times,” said Major Ronnie Raymer, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army’s Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division. “So as Americans enjoy a tasty donut this year, we ask everyone to consider giving back to support their local community.”

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”The donut now serves as a symbol of all the social services The Salvation Army provides to those in need.”[/quote]

National Donut Day Fun Facts:

  • The Salvation Army started National Donut Day during the Great Depression as a way to raise funds and bring awareness to The Salvation Army’s social service programs.
  • National Donut Day commemorates the “donut lassies,” female Salvation Army volunteers who provided writing supplies, stamps, clothes-mending and home-cooked meals, and of course, donuts, for soldiers on the front lines.
  • Approximately 250 Salvation Army volunteers provided assistance to American soldiers in France starting in 1917 during WWI.
  • With limited resources, these treats were fried, only seven at a time. The Salvation Army’s Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance cleverly thought of frying donuts in soldiers’ helmets.
  • Last year, 30 million Americans received assistance from The Salvation Army’s 3,600 officers, 60,000 employees and 3.4 million volunteers.