The first Friday in June has been celebrated by The Salvation Army since 1938 as “National Donut Day.”
You may have noticed the donut giveaways and the donut pictures on social media, but did you know that this delicious holiday has its origins in The Salvation Army’s work on the front lines of World War I in France?
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 clean clothes, supplies and, of course, baked goods.
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, which at the time were made of tin and served admirably as fryers. These tasty treats, born of the ingenuity that necessity so often brings, boosted morale and won the hearts of many soldiers.
National Doughnut Day officially started in 1938 as a fund raiser for Chicago’s Salvation Army. The goal of the celebration was to help those in need during the Great Depression, and to honor The Salvation Army volunteers of World War I, who served doughnuts and other necessities to soldiers.
National Donut Day is still celebrated annually; the donut is a symbol of the comfort that The Salvation Army provides to those in need through its many social services programs. This year’s National Donut Day marked 101 years since The Salvation Army served the delicious treats to American soldiers on the front lines during World War I. Even a 100 years later, The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services teams still serves donuts as a comfort food, in addition to warm meals and hydration, to those in need during times of disaster.