The Sweet History of Donut Day and The Salvation Army

Jun 1, 2024

Donut Day, celebrated on the first Friday of June, is a delightful tradition that brings joy to millions of people with its promise of confectionary delights. While most of us might indulge in extra sprinkles or mouth-watering glaze dripping from our sugary treats, the origins of this day are deeply rooted in acts of compassion and service during one of history's most trying times—World War I. The history of Donut Day is intrinsically linked to the noble efforts of The Salvation Army and their dedicated "Doughnut Lassies."

During World War I, The Salvation Army sent over 250 volunteers to the front lines in France to support US soldiers. These brave souls, often referred to as “Doughnut Lassies,” offered help to boost the morale of the troops. They set up huts near the front lines, providing soldiers with essential supplies, a place to rest, and a comforting presence amidst the chaos of war.

One of the most cherished contributions these morale boosters provided was their simple act of frying doughnuts for the soldiers. The idea was to help provide a taste of home to weary warriors. Due to the conditions of war, and limited supplies, soldiers’ helmets were often used for frying the treats. The irresistible aroma and taste quickly made them a favorite among the troops.

In 1938, The Salvation Army in Chicago decided to honor these courageous women and their service by creating the first official Donut Day. The event was not only a tribute to the Doughnut Lassies but also a fundraiser to support those in need during the Great Depression. It aimed to raise awareness and generate donations for the organization’s charitable activities, which included feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and supporting struggling families.

Today, Donut Day is celebrated nationwide, with many bakeries and doughnut shops participating by offering free doughnuts and special promotions. While the day has become a commercial success, its roots in philanthropy and service remain at its core. The Salvation Army continues to honor the legacy of the Doughnut Lassies by providing essential services to those in need, embodying the same spirit of compassion and community that defined the original volunteers.

As we indulge in the sweet treats of Donut Day, it is worth remembering the history behind the holiday. It serves as a reminder of the enduring impact of small acts of kindness and the importance of supporting those who serve others selflessly. The legacy of the Doughnut Lassies lives on, not only in the delicious donuts we enjoy but also in the ongoing mission of The Salvation Army to serve humanity with love and dedication.

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