Salvation Army volunteers traveled overseas to set up
service huts located in abandoned buildings near
the front lines where they could serve baked goods
National Doughnut Day
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National Doughnut Day, or National Donut Day, celebrated in the United States of America, is on the first Friday of June each year, succeeding the Doughnut Day event created by The Salvation Army in 1938 to honor those of their members who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. The holiday celebrates the doughnut (a.k.a. "donut") – an edible, torus-shaped piece of dough which is deep-fried and sweetened. Many American doughnut stores offer free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day.
National Doughnut Day started on June 7, 1938 when a young military doctor by the name of Morgan Pett was sent to a military base. On his way there he stopped at a bakery and picked up 8 dozen doughnuts. When he arrived at the base he started helping many wounded soldiers, and would give them a free doughnut. One man he helped was a Lieutenant General by the name of Samuel Geary. Samuel Geary greatly appreciated the help on his leg, and the doughnut (as he was a very comical man) so he decided to make a fund raiser with Morgan Pett to give every wounded soldier, and the needy a doughnut. This fund raiser was later joined with the Salvation Army.
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 the needs of US enlisted men could be met by canteens/social centers termed "huts" that could serve baked goods, provide writing supplies and stamps, and provide a clothes-mending service. Typically, six staff members per hut would include four female volunteers who could "mother" the boys. These huts were established by The Salvation Army in the United States near army training centers.
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, the 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 The Salvation Army huts". Margaret Sheldon wrote of one busy day: "Today I made 22 pies, 300 doughnuts, 700 cups of coffee."
Soon, the women who did this work became known by the servicemen as "Doughnut Dollies".
A misapprehension has taken hold 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.
In Chicago, National Doughnut Day is still a fundraiser for The Salvation Army.
In the Second World War, Red Cross Volunteers also distributed doughnuts, and it became routine to refer to the Red Cross girls as Doughnut Dollies as well.
There are three other doughnut holidays, the origins of which are obscure. International Jelly-Filled Doughnut Day is widely recognized as June 8 (occasionally as June 9). National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day is celebrated on September 14. And, Buy A Doughnut Day occurs on October 30.
The birthday of the United States Marine Corps was once referred to as National Donut Day, in a successful ruse by American prisoners of war at Son Tay prison camp to trick the North Vietnamese into giving out donuts in honor of the occasion.
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