National Donut Day 2024

May 21, 2024


In 1917, The Salvation Army embarked on a mission to provide spiritual and emotional  support to  U.S. soldiers fighting in France during World War I. At the personal request of  General John J. Pershing, about 250 volunteers traveled overseas and set up small huts  near the front lines where they provided soldiers with clothes, supplies, and of course, sweet treats. Against the odds, and despite the poor conditions of the huts and their limited rations, two officers — Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance — began frying donuts. These tasty treats boosted morale and won the hearts of many soldiers.  

Nicknamed Donut Lassies, the women who served donuts to troops are often credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when the troops returned home from war. Throughout the 1920s, and into the 1930s when the Great Depression upended countless lives, The Salvation Army continued to sell and donate donuts. When World War II began, volunteers from The Salvation Army once again provided sweet treats to those serving on the front lines, but were now assisted by a new invention – the automatic donut-making machine.  

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.  

The donut still serves as a symbol and reminder of the comfort The Salvation Army Donut Lassies provided to soldiers during World War I and World War II through many social service programs still active today.  

In celebration of National Donut Day, The Salvation Army Austin delivers donuts to more than 100 community partners in Central Texas, including first responders, essential workers, and other stakeholders for their selflessness and contributions to our community. These deliveries are made possible by HEB, our donut day partner since 2020, who generously donates hundreds of donuts each year. Every summer, we look forward to this delightful day, as it signifies a unique opportunity for us to honor the Salvation Army’s longstanding legacy and brightens the days of individuals who work hard to serve the Central Texas community. 

National Donut Day is a great representation of who we are and our mission of “Doing the Most Good.”  We work tirelessly to support families and individuals with not only basic needs, but also happiness, comfort, and hope to strengthen them when they need it most. When a family walks through our doors for the first time, their nerves are calmed by the smiling face of a staff member welcoming them in, ready to support them and offer a helping hand out of their crisis. We strive to empower each family in our community while they face their hardships head on, ensuring they have safe housing and are self-sufficient. Happy National Donut Day! 

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