During World War I, female volunteers with the Salvation Army went to France to provide fresh-baked goods and other items to American troops.
Since difficulties arose with providing all kinds of baked items from huts established in abandoned buildings near the front lines, volunteers came up with the idea of frying dough in soldiers' helmets and dusting it with powdered sugar for a quick treat to boost morale.
The confections were instant hits, and the volunteers were, too. They became known as "Doughnut Girls" or "Doughnut Lassies."
To honor the World War I volunteers and to help those in need during the Great Depression, the Salvation Army in Chicago launched National Doughnut Day in 1938 as a fundraiser.
Now, it's recognized each year as the first Friday in June, and just like the volunteers of more than a century ago in Europe, The Salvation Army of Charleston will offer doughnuts to people who help to protect the community on Friday.
The group will distribute the sweet treats to veterans at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and area first responders to mark the annual occasion.
“The Salvation Army has a strong tradition of serving our veterans and first responders, and we thought that this would be a good way to show them just a small bit of our appreciation for their sacrifice,” said Capts. Jason and Bethany Burns, corps officers of The Salvation Army in Charleston.
Florida-based supermarket chain Publix, which has more than a dozen stores in the Charleston region, has donated 25 dozen doughnuts for the endeavor, according to Karl Brady, director of development of the Charleston charitable organization.
“This partnership with Publix allows us to bring a small bit of happiness to someone’s day and show them that their community cares about them,” he said.
Other promotions associated with National Doughnut Day are usually offered, so check with retailers and restaurants for deals.
For instance, Dunkin' will give away a classic doughnut with the purchase of a beverage Friday.
Duck Donuts, which opened a shop in West Ashley's Westwood Plaza Shopping Center in August, will give away one free bare, cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar donut in-store only on Friday. No purchase is necessary.