Friday, June 3 is National Doughnut Day, and you know what that means … Free doughnuts at Krispy Kreme! But, did you know that National Doughnut Day was actually started by The Salvation Army back in 1938?
The special day was created in 1938 to raise awareness and support to help the needy during the Great Depression and to commemorate the work of the “doughnut lassies” who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War 1.
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. Evangeline Booth, The Salvation Army’s US National Commander wanted to serve our military during the war. “American boys are going to France,” she said. “We must go with them.”
About 250 volunteers traveled overseas and set up small huts located near the front lines where they could give soldiers clothes, supplies and more. After 36 days of steady rain, a blanket of depression was hanging over the soldiers and they agreed they “ought to be able to give them some real home cooking.”
Supplies were tough to come by. The only things they could get were flour, sugar, lard, baking powder cinnamon and canned milk. They thought about pancakes, but decided they wouldn’t be as good served cold and without syrup. Serving baked goods would be difficult considering the conditions of the huts and the limited rations. So, two volunteers – Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance – began frying doughnuts, 7 at a time, in soldiers’ helmets. These tasty treats boosted morale and won the hearts of many soldiers.
Nicknamed “doughnut lassies,” the women who served doughnuts to troops are often credited with popularizing the doughnut in the United States when the troops (nicknamed “doughboys”) returned home from war.
The doughnut was a symbol of hope during the World War 1. Today, it remains a symbol of how The Salvation Army continues to speak hope to people when they need it most. Every day, The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte continues to fulfill the mission to do the most good as we help our neighbors in need; nurture youth in our community to enable them to reach their God-given potential; and serve as a lifeline to rescue the hopeless from circumstances that rob them of their dignity.
On National Doughnut Day, enjoy those tasty treats. Always remember how the doughnut has brightened many days in the past, and look for opportunities to brighten someone else’s day today.