The Doughnut Girls: Bringing hope to soldiers

Doughnut Girls (The Salvation Army)

In the United States, 43.1 million Americans live in poverty, according to The Salvation Army. To help those in need, they operate more than 7,500 service centers and this week is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for those services.

The Salvation Army is known for providing support and assistance in times of need. About 100 years ago, starting with World War I, women from The Salvation Army were endearingly known for their innovative baking and bringing a sense of comfort to our soldiers during war time.

"They would go to the front lines where the soldiers were fighting," said Major Dale Brandenburg, Hastings Salvation Army.

They were The Salvation Army Doughnut Girls.

"The Doughnut Girls were the only individuals ever allowed in the history of war, where our private citizens could go right straight to the front lines," said Brandenburg.

At the beginning, the girls made doughnuts using makeshift utensils like helmets, and empty food containers.

"They gave [the soldiers] hot fresh donuts and hot fresh coffee right in their fox holes and right up on the front lines," said Brandenburg. "We even had Doughnut Girls who were killed in the line of duty while they were out serving the doughnuts."

To this day, their services are fondly remembered.

"It was a wonderful program and you can still today, there's some people out there who remember the Doughnut Girls from World War III," said Brandenburg. "Because of what they did, it's one of the reasons we're still so popular today."

Now, about century later, The Salvation Army continues the tradition.

"We're still doing the exact same thing," said Brandenburg. "Going to the people."

The Salvation Army disaster units, the like one in Hastings, can respond any time to offer food, comfort and support in times of crises.

"We're there for the long run," said Brandenburg. "Like 9–11, we were there for over a year, every day, 365 days a year. We were there while they were cleaning up, we were there while they were rebuilding and so when we come in we don't leave until the last person's taken care of."

The original Doughnut Girl was Helen Purviance. Read her first–hand account, written in an article dated 1976 here, at the bottom of the page.

The Hastings Salvation Army said their funding comes from the community. To support their mission through donations or volunteering call 402-463-0529 x 1.

To follow this story and all of Jessica Stevenson's local news coverage, find her on facebook and twitter.

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