During World War I, approximately 250 Salvation Army volunteers provided assistance to our American soldiers fighting on the front lines in France starting in 1917.
As the young soldiers faced physical and emotional peril amidst the fighting, female Salvation Army officers Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance had the idea to comfort them with good home cooking,
using their limited ingredients to fry up in helmets
delicious doughnuts for the boys.
These women, earning the nickname “Doughnut
Lassies” and “Doughnut Girls,” served countless treats
to grateful soldiers, traversing through the trenches to
bring the men doughnuts and coffee. More than just
filling an empty stomach, these doughnuts and the
joyful presence of the women who worked so hard to
make them provided the soldiers with the boost their
spirits needed during an extraordinarily difficult time.
The doughnuts became an instant hit that was brought
back to America by returning “doughboys.”
The Salvation Army celebrated the first National Doughnut Day in 1938 in the city of Chicago as a way to honor Salvation Army “doughnut lassies” from World War I. They started the Day as a way to raise funds and bring awareness to the Army’s social service programs during the Great Depression.
And today, 73 years later, we continue that tradition to help raise awareness for the critical services we provide to 30 million Americans in need each year!
Did you know?
Americans were introduced to donuts
by Salvation Army Officers in 1917!