National Doughnut Day

Today is National Doughnut Day. In Nashville, at least, Krispy Kreme stores are giving away one free doughnut. In conjunction with this, the Salvation Army will be on site to accept donations. In our area, the Salvation Army has spent a lot of its money on helping people after all of the tornadoes and damaging storms that have happened over the last couple of months, and they are running short on funds to run non-emergency programs, such as summer camps.

You can donate to the Salvation Army online, if you can’t make it to a Krispy Kreme. You can also donate used goods to any of their resale stores; proceeds from the sales go to their charity programs. If you’re doing some serious decluttering, have things you don’t want to move, or have yard sale leftovers, call your local Salvation Army store to arrange a pickup. It’s the perfect way to get rid of furniture and other heavy items that you can’t move yourself.

A friend on Facebook called my attention to the connection between the Salvation Army and doughnuts, and I dug up a brief history for you on Wikipedia:

Soon after the US entrance into World War I in 1917, the Salvation Army sent a fact-finding mission to France. The mission concluded that “huts” that could serve baked goods, provide writing supplies and stamps, and provide a clothes-mending service, would serve the needs of US enlisted men. Six staff members per hut should include four female volunteers who could “mother” the boys.

(The canteens/social centres that were established by the Salvation Army in the United States near army training centers were called “huts”.)

About 250 Salvation Army volunteers went to France. Because of the difficulties of providing freshly baked goods from huts established in abandoned buildings near to the front lines, two Salvation Army volunteers (Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance) came up with the idea of providing doughnuts. These are reported to have been an “instant hit”, and “soon many soldiers were visiting Salvation Army huts”. Margaret Sheldon wrote of one busy day “Today I made 22 pies, 300 doughnuts, 700 cups of coffee.”

A legend has spread that the provision of doughnuts to US enlisted men in World War I is the origin of the term doughboy to describe US infantry, but the term was in use as early as the Mexican-American War of 1846-47.

My grandmother has told me this story several times: when my grandfather was serving in WWII, the Salvation Army followed the troops and set up stations to provide them with free coffee (she didn’t mention if there were also doughnuts). The Red Cross also followed the troops, but he said they sold the coffee (I want to say it was 50 cents, but that sounds high for 1944). Until his death, my grandfather always had money to put in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas. In his honor, I also give when I see them. We have more than paid for his free coffee!

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