WARSAW — May 9-14 is National Salvation Army week and on First Friday, May 6, they want to thank people for their support with a canteen, which will be serving donuts from military helmets like the “Donut Girls” did in World War I. There will also be a mannequin wearing the Donut Girl uniform for people to get a glimpse of history close-up.
Back in WWI, the Salvation Army “lassies” would serve donuts to the homesick soldiers to give them a little taste of home. The soldiers were rallied by the gesture, and by the donuts, and started calling the SA lassies “Donut Girls.”
According to the Salvation Army website, “The simple doughnut became a symbol of all that the Salvation Army was doing to ease the hardships of the front-line fighting man; the canteens in primitive dugouts and huts, the free refreshments, religious services, concerts and a clothes-mending service.”
Ken “Hawkeye” Locke, Salvation Army community ministries, says the Salvation Army has had a long-standing relationship with the military and that is why National Salvation Army week is so close to Memorial Day in May. He said the SA still sends care packages to people in the military and have done so for over a 100 years.
The SA will also be hosting an open house from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, May 5, at 501 E. Arthur St., and will have a video demonstration discussing the Donut Girls and how they raised the morale of the soldiers. There will also be information about the services they offer, like Pathways of Hope, which help people locate better housing, employment help; mock job interviews to help prepare for the real thing. The SA also offers youth programs, summer camp, emergency rental assistance and a food pantry.
Locke said National Salvation Army week is, “Just reminding people of what we do and to thank everyone for their support.” He and Trish Welch, Salvation Army community ministries, want to remind people “There is need throughout the year. There are still people that need food or rental assistance every day, not just during the holidays.”