The Salvation Army Celebrates the True Meaning of National Donut Day

Fun foodie holiday is among few with deeper roots

Many Americans don’t know that National Donut Day actually has its roots in doing good. Celebrated on the first Friday in June, this sweet tradition dates back to World War I, when nearly 250 Salvation Army volunteers known as “Donut Lassies” traveled overseas to provide emotional and spiritual support as well as fried confections, supplies, and other services to troops on the front lines.

The original donuts were fried in small pans on the front lines, and the Lassies are credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when troops returned home from war. The Salvation Army in Chicago celebrated the first National Donut Day in 1938 to commemorate their work and help those in need during the Great Depression.

That same spirit of service continues to this day. For more than a century the organization has provided a wide range of essential services like food, shelter, and emotional and spiritual support to the most vulnerable and to the men and women serving on the front lines of need.

“Whether glazed or cake, and whatever the toppings, donuts represent our long history of providing hope and comfort – from our volunteers in the trenches of war to our continued service on the front lines of need,” said Commissioner Kenneth Hodder, National Commander of The Salvation Army. “Knowing that National Donut Day has its roots in the ‘fight for good’ makes these treats taste even sweeter.”

The Salvation Army will celebrate in a wide variety of ways across the country, including:

  • Austin, Texas: Partnering with H-E-B grocery stores to deliver donuts to first responders, frontline workers, and others in need of a sweet surprise.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio: Making a special delivery to the Veteran’s Hospital and encouraging the public to go purchase a dozen donuts from their favorite bakery, share it with someone special (friends, family, hometown hero), and post it to social while mentioning #NationalDonutDay.
  • Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware GIANT and Martin’s grocery stores will give $0.50 to The Salvation Army for every dozen donuts sold on Donut Day. The Salvation Army is also partnering with the app Shareity to facilitate their multiple “Take A Bite, Share The Delight” activations on National Donut Day that are meant to increase awareness of The Salvation Army’s role in its creation and engage more people in their work.
  • Lynchburg, Virginia: Delivering donuts to first responders, active military, fire fighters and police officers thanking them for their service on the front lines of need.
  • Maryland: Partnering with local bakers to presell specialty donuts during the month of May. Orders will be fulfilled on National Donut Day with proceeds and donations to the campaign going to support local programs.
  • Roanoke, Virginia: Celebrating from June 1-5 by partnering with a local community beautification organization called I HEART SE for a clean-up event, and participating in Humble Hustle’s “Chalk Up The City with Love” to encourage the public to write messages of love with chalk throughout the city of Roanoke, including around The Salvation Army’s local corps.
  • Chicago, Illinois: Partnering with Clyde’s Donuts, to not only celebrate front-line workers with their delicious treats, but also celebrate the bakery’s 100th anniversary.
  • Denver, Colorado: Partnering with LaMar’s Donuts to distribute donuts to hospital workers, police officers, and firefighters.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: Recruiting one thousand volunteers to help deliver 1,000 dozen donuts to members of the community who make a difference, including teachers, neighbors, first responders or friends. Those who volunteer will also get a box of free donuts.

For more information about National Donut Day, including the Donut Lassies’ original recipe, visit:

About The Salvation Army USA 
The Salvation Army annually helps 30 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter: @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood


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