Holiday steeped in history: The Salvation Army, a local bakery offers free treats for National Donut Day on Fridays | News, Sports, Jobs
Everyone has their favorite donut. Frozen, jelly filled, frosted, chocolate or maybe even with sprinkles on it. There’s never a bad time or reason to consume this sweet circular treat, let alone National Donut Day, which takes place on the first Friday in June each year.
However, what most may not know is the origins of the holiday. Its history extends far beyond an average civilian inventing the day on his own. In fact, it can be traced back to WWI, Europe, and the Salvation Army.
During World War I, when the American armed forces fought on the front lines in France, the Salvation Army had its own volunteer army, made up mostly of women, to supply the soldiers after a long day of fighting.
“The Salvation Army called them ‘Donut Lassies’ and sent them to Europe” said Cari Detmers, director of development for the Salvation Army in Marquette County. “They set up these huts and they served coffee, pies and donuts to our soldiers. When a hut was not available, they would send them as close to the front lines as possible.
“They did everything they could to be with (the soldiers) while they were there. They wanted to take them home.
The Salvation Army sent about 250 of these volunteers overseas to serve American soldiers after the United States entered the war in 1917, according to its website. It was a little way to boost the morale of the soldiers and thank them for their service.
The concept of Donut Lassies resurfaced in 1938 during the Great Depression, the same year the Salvation Army in Chicago first recognized National Donut Day.
“During the Depression, The Salvation Army in Chicago decided to have Donut Day in honor of the girls”, said Detmers. “Women volunteered and set out to do the same (like war) during the Depression, feeding people coffee and donuts.
Detmers admitted that no one really recognizes the day as one that originated in the Salvation Army, instead acknowledging it as just another day on the calendar of a fun and wacky vacation. Detmers herself was unaware of the origin until she got involved in the organization.
“I didn’t know either” she said. “National Donut Day really has its roots in who the United States is. We go where we need to do what needs to be done. The Salvation Army has been around since the mid-1800s. Whenever there is a need, you know there will be a Salvation Army out there to meet it.
With that history lesson in mind, what is the Marquette County Salvation Army doing to celebrate the annual event on Friday?
Free donuts, of course.
The organization partners with Huron Mountain Bakery to provide the delicious treats at its Marquette and Ishpeming locations. The first 200 people to visit Huron Mountain Bakery in Marquette and the first 100 people to visit Huron Mountain Bakery in Ishpeming on Friday will receive a free glazed donut.
While giving away free donuts is just one way to celebrate the holiday, the Salvation Army sees it as a sign of gratitude to a community that has stepped up to help its neighbors over the past year.
“Because COVID was particularly difficult for community members, we wanted to thank the community for coming together over the past year and helping us feed all of our neighbors. “ said Detmers. “Since that time last year, we have served over 4,000 families with pantries, vouchers, gas cards, utilities, Christmas and various types of case management. We have served 24,796 lunches since the onset of COVID, and all have been served take out. We sent 2,921 pantries, and each set included two boxes, one huge paper bag, two plastic bags, and additional bread and dairy products. We have doubled the size of the breakfasts over the past year. We used to have 60 people for lunch in person, and now we’re doing 100 to 125 a day.
“This is what the community has helped us do. On National Donut Day, the least we can do is give our town a sweet treat that has been so kind to us. “
The Salvation Army’s iconic red cooking pot will be featured in both Huron Mountain Bakery stores with signs showing community support over the past year.
“People can see how great the community has been to rally with each other and make sure everyone is fed.” Demeter said.
The Salvation Army assists more than 23 million Americans each year and serves in approximately 130 countries.
To learn more about National Donut Day and to find the original Salvation Army WWI donut recipe, visit www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/national-donut-day/.
To learn more about the Marquette County Salvation Army, visit www.centralusa.salvationarmy.org/marquettecountymi/, call 906-226-2241 or 906-486-8121, or email mqtcounty @ usc .salvationarmy.org.
Huron Mountain Bakery in Marquette, located at 1301 S. Front St., is open 5 am to 7 pm Monday through Saturday and 6 am to 7 pm Sunday. Its location in Ishpeming along US 41 is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
For more information on Huron Mountain Bakery, visit www.huronmountainbakery.com or call its Marquette location at 906-225-1301 or its Ishpeming location at 906-485-6848.
Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is [email protected]