On the first Friday in June, Americans celebrate the goodness that is donuts. But did you know that National Donut Day actually has its roots in doing good?

The Salvation Army in Chicago celebrated the first National Donut Day in 1938 to help those in need during the Great Depression and to commemorate the work of the “Donut Lassies,” who served donuts to soldiers during World War I.

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 near the front lines where they could give soldiers clothes, supplies, and, of course, baked goods.

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

Donut Lassie Girl WWI 3

 

Nicknamed “Donut Lassies,” the women who served donuts to troops are often credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when the troops (nicknamed “Doughboys”) returned home from war.

The donut now serves as a symbol of the comfort that The Salvation Army provides to those in need through its many social services programs. The Salvation Army still serves donuts, in addition to warm meals and hydration, to those in need during times of disaster.

National Donut Day is held annually on the first Friday in June, and The Salvation Army celebrates the work of the original Donut Lassies by delivering donuts to those in need and to donut lovers across the country.

The original recipe from the front lines:

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 tablespoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 tub lard

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients (except for lard) to make the dough.
  • Thoroughly knead the dough, roll smooth, and cut into rings that are less than 1/4 inch thick.
  • Drop the rings into the lard, making sure the fat is hot enough to brown the donuts gradually. Turn the donuts slowly several times.
  • When browned, remove donuts and allow excess fat to drip off.
  • 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.