In 1917, The Salvation Army established a new mission to provide for the needs of frontline soldiers in France. Approximately 250 volunteers left their families at home to set up service "huts" and "rest rooms" located in abandond buildings near the front lines. Here they provided home cooked food, writing supplies and stamps, and mended clothes for soldiers engaged in battle.
It proved to be quite difficult to provide freshly baked goods from an abandoned building. Two clever Salvation Army lassies began frying donuts in soldiers' helmets, and a new tradition was born. The volunteers could fry approximately 7 donuts per batch, and their original recipe is still in use today!
The donuts, as well as the caring smiles of the girls who served them, brought comfort and a sense of belonging to American soldiers who were missing the special care of their families back home.
The very first Donut Day was celebrated in Chicago in 1938 to raise money for those in need. It has been celebrated each year on the first Friday in June. While it is now a national event, many people have no idea that it originated with the selfess actions of two Salvation Army "Doughnut Girls".
In Kalamazoo, we celebrate Donut Day each year by delivering fresh Sweetwater's Donuts to first responders and military personnel. In addition to recognizing first responders, Sweetwater's Donut Mill donates a portion of their Donut Day proceeds to The Salvation Army to help support community services throughout Kalamazoo County.