War & Donuts

Donut Day

Reflections on Donut Day / 100th Anniversary of the Donut Girls - Brad Carter


We recently celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Salvation Army Donut Girls from World War One.


Sprinkles, jelly filling, fried dough confection: donuts make people smile.  They are colorful.  They induce glee in children (and children at heart).  But don’t let the cutesy images, and tasty donuts overshadow the horror of war.  Don’t let the donut glaze, glaze over that death, destruction, and despair were everywhere, and these women stared into the danger, left their families and friends- all to remind soldiers of their humanity through a simple fried dough confection, the donut.


Today, the tradition of humanity continues. The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services workers, continually support the first responders of disasters throughout the world.  We harken back to World War One, on this donut day, but it isn’t necessary to go back a century or even a decade.  We can see the modern day Salvation Army’s support in tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, and even terrorist attacks like 9/11 and the Boston Bombing.  In fact- today, somewhere in the world, a Salvation Army volunteer is serving a victim.


Maybe a donut, a cup of water or some coffee doesn’t sound like much but to someone in crisis in the very moment of despair it is something. It is a single connection to the world the victim knew before tragedy struck.  In those moments of shock and devastation, a hug or a donut can be everything.  However, The Salvation Army provides more.  In many situations like Katrina and other huge natural disasters, The Salvation Army sticks around for weeks, months, and even years, helping victims return to normal life.  The Salvation Army provides or helps find, temporary housing, and food for families who have lost everything.  Even beyond that The Salvation Army provides a Pathway of Hope and Emergency assistance in neighborhoods throughout the world for individuals and families facing hard times even without facing a natural disaster.


For me, I always found the title “Donut Girls” to be a bit patronizing. What these women did, and what E.D.S. volunteers continue to do, is selfless and courageous.  Then again, “Selfless and Courageous Women with Donuts” just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.   


Please, consider volunteering with the Emergency Disaster Services team.  You not only will be making an impact in someone’s life  who truly needs it, you will also find the experience impacting your own.