national donut day

History

In 1938, the first-ever National Donut Day was celebrated in Chicago, and the history of The Salvation Army’s Donut Lassies was officially immortalized. The Donut Lassies were sent to France in 1917 where they established field bases near the front lines. These huts served as locations where soldiers could stock up on essential goods and snag a treat or two provided by the lassies. When it became apparent that baking was going to be difficult to continue during war time, two volunteers – Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance – began frying donuts in soldiers’ helmets. Their work brought a light of hope and happiness to the battlefield – a much-needed boost for soldiers who had been there for ages.

The “Donut Lassies” are now often credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when the troops (commonly known as “doughboys”) came back from fighting in Europe. Over a hundred years later, The Salvation Army is still serving on the front lines, now through a wide range of social services for the most vulnerable Americans.


Read the press release to see how we are celebrating National Donut Day this year.


Want to try your hand at making the donuts that started it all?

Below, you’ll find our century-old recipe so you can bake and share these sweet treats with whomever needs them most.

SALVATION ARMY WWI DONUT INGREDIENTS

Yield: 2 dozen donuts

  • 1 large egg
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 tablespoon salt
  • 7/8 cup milk
  • 1/2 tub lard (because it is no longer 1917, we actually recommend using healthier options like vegetable or coconut oil)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine all ingredients (except for oil) to make dough.
  2. Thoroughly knead dough, roll smooth, and cut into rings that are less than 1/4 inch thick. (When finding items to cut out donut circles, be creative! Salvation Army Donut Lassies used whatever they could find, from baking powder cans to coffee percolator tubes.)
  3. Drop the rings into the oil, making sure the oil is hot enough to brown the donuts gradually. Turn the donuts slowly several times.
  4. When browned, remove donuts and allow excess oil to drip off.
  5. Dust with powdered sugar. Let cool and enjoy.

When President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared the first National Salvation Army Week in 1954, he noted, “Among Americans, The Salvation Army has long been a symbol of wholehearted dedication to the cause of brotherhood.”

65 years later, National Salvation Army Week continues to serve as a reminder to Americans to give freely of themselves and to join us in upholding our five core values:

  • PASSIONATE | The Salvation Army’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination. We believe Christ changes lives. This faith gives us a motivation that goes beyond simply doing good. We have a passion for doing the most good for body, soul, and spirit.
  • COMPASSIONATE | Caring for the poor. Feeding the hungry. Sheltering the homeless. Clothing the naked. Loving the unlovable. Befriending the friendless.
  • UPLIFTING | William Booth (Founder of The Salvation Army) once said, “The Salvation Army is a place of hope. When every other light is extinguished, and every other star has gone down, this one gleam shines steadily and clearly out in the darkened sky: ‘If I could only get to The Salvation Army, they will do something for me.'”
  • BRAVE | People who serve in The Salvation Army routinely go into places others prefer to avoid: impoverished neighborhoods, jails and prisons, hospital rooms and nursing homes, gatherings of alcoholics and drug addicts, and the immediate scene of natural disasters.
  • TRUSTWORTHY | To those who want to positively affect their world, The Salvation Army is the charity that maximizes their contributions by using 83 cents of every dollar donated to provide direct services to the less fortunate.

Taking place this year May 13-19, the week is just one opportunity for The Salvation Army to thank the volunteers and donors who have made us one of the world’s largest and most-trusted charities.

Without the help of countless donors and more than 3 million volunteers, The Salvation Army couldn’t serve 23 million people in need each year across the United States.

National Salvation Army Week is also a time for new volunteers and donors to join our important mission. Not only for the greater good, but because the upcoming summer months are our most challenging season when giving decreases, but the need for The Salvation Army’s services increases.

Thank you for helping The Salvation Army serve men, women, and children in need in your community.