ST. CLOUD -- The Salvation Army in St. Cloud is celebrating their 77th annual Donut Day on Friday. It's a tradition that started during the Great Depression to raise money for the nonprofit and to honor women who made donuts for soldiers during World War I.

A group of about six women known as "Donut Lassies" were the first people from the Salvation Army to make donuts for American soldiers stationed in France. The women would make the deep fried treat on the front lines.Once word spread of the women's efforts returning soldiers were often referred to as "doughboys."

Major Lee Morrison with the St. Cloud Salvation Army says, "the Salvation Army at that time was just starting to expand world wide. The Salvation Army had just come into the United States in 1880...So, when the troops went over they went with them."

The female volunteers had very limited resources in 1917. They made the donuts with flour, sugar, cinnamon and lard. The pastries were fried in pans that could make just seven at a time. Sometimes the women would fry to donuts in the soldiers' helmets if pans were not available.

Morrison says the women provided more than a doughnut to the soldiers, "it's that attitude that someone cares about me and what I'm doing and where I'm going."

To honor the "Donut Lassies" the Salvation Army started National Donut Day. On the first Friday in June the organization partners with local grocery stores nation wide to sell donuts. The treats are specially marked with the Salvation Army's logo.

This year the St. Cloud chapter is partnering with Coborn's to sell the treat. All 45 Coborn's and Cash Wise supermarkets throughout the Midwest will be participating. One dollar is donated to the Salvation Army for every box of donuts that Coborn's sells.

The supermarket chain will be running their promotion Friday, June 6 through Sunday, June 8. During that time, Coborn's estimates that they will sell about 25,000 donuts that will all be locally made at their St. Cloud corporate campus.

Last year the organization raised about $5,000. The nonprofit uses that money for their emergency services program. Last year they were able to provide people with about 50,000 meals.

St. Cloud Salvation Army
St. Cloud Salvation Army

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