Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Salvation Army 'donut girl' serves a wounded soldier

Free donuts pay homage to veterans, ‘Donut Girls’

Added on Thursday, June 5, 2014

This year, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy also happens to coincide with a “D” of a different sort. On Friday, June 6, The Salvation Army will celebrate National Donut Day to honor veterans and the history of the “Donut Girls,” also called “Lassies,” who served a taste of home to the troops risking their lives overseas.

Free Donuts for All

During World War I and II and the Vietnam War, Salvation Army “Donut Girls” made fresh, complementary donuts for American soldiers. The scent of fresh baked goods permeated the air and drew homesick soldiers to the service “hut” where they could enjoy a taste of home.

“All my life I’ve heard about the Salvation Army ladies handing out donuts to the soldiers. I’m proud to be part of this,” said YoYo Donuts Baker Stormy Strommer.

YoYo Donuts is giving its customers one free donut of their choice, including Salvation Army original recipe donuts, on Friday, June 6. Located in Minnetonka, YoYo is just one of more than a baker’s dozen of businesses that have teamed up with The Salvation Army in Minnesota and North Dakota to give away donuts or offer discounts.

For example, the Fargo Salvation Army will open its doors with complimentary donuts from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Friday June 6 at 304 Roberts St. In Rochester, National Donut Day means free donuts and coffee at the Peace Plaza downtown from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., along with a band that will play World Wars I and II era music.

Also, for every box of eight donuts sold for $2.99 at Coborn’s and Cash Wise stores, $1 will be donated to the Salvation Army. The promotion runs from June 5-7.

Today, The Salvation Army provides 64 million meals, including donuts to millions of Americans every year. In Minnesota and North Dakota alone, 992,000 meals are served annually to people in need. The donut continues to be a comfort food served by The Salvation Army to those in need during times of disaster.

History of Donut Day

National Donut Day started as a fundraiser by The Salvation Army during the Great Depression to honor military veterans and commemorate the work of the “Donut Girls.” Ever since, it has been celebrated the first Friday each June.

The female military volunteers called “Donut Girls” or “Lassies” fried the donuts in soldiers’ helmets during WWI and in subsequent wars, as well as provided writing supplies, stamps, clothes-mending and home-cooked meals.

At the start they could only serve 150 doughnuts, but the next day that number doubled. As demand for the comforts of home grew, they fried up to 9,000 donuts daily which included deliveries to troops along the frontlines.