Yes, there is a National Donut Day. It’s the first Friday in June, which is June 2 this year. And yes, there is a theology behind it, or at least a spiritual history that we can use theologically.
National Donut Day didn’t start as a quirky day of recognition (such as National Flip a Coin Day) but rather as a fundraiser for Chicago’s Salvation Army in 1938 to help the needy during the Great Depression. The Donut Day theme was selected to honor the “donut ministry” of the Salvation Army in World War I.
As an outreach to U.S. Servicemen in France during that war, the Salvation Army sent volunteers near the front lines to provide baked goods and other home-life comforts. To better facilitate the challenges of baking in primitive conditions, two Salvation Army volunteers simplified the process by providing donuts. It was a hit, of course. Everybody likes donuts! And as you might expect with the Salvation Army, the servicemen were getting more than donuts and coffee, but also spiritual aid and emotional comfort.
It’s a ministry model from Jesus: meet a physical need while providing spiritual sustenance. Sometimes Jesus made direct correlation, such as healing a paralyzed man and forgiving his sins. Other times the physical provision simply softened the ground for spiritual connection later, such as the turning of water into wine or the feeding of the multitudes.
So how can you honor National Donut Day with more than eating a ceremonial donut…or two? Use the day to do a physical/spiritual outreach. Many national and international ministries have imitated this model with great affect: think Habitat for Humanity, area crisis pregnancy centers, and Third World well-drilling ministries. You could mobilize a crew to support a ministry like these. Or, you could create your own effort.
Here are two sets of ideas for honoring National Donut Day: the first set parallels Jesus’ model of meeting physical and spiritual needs; the second set parallels the spirit of the Salvation Army’s original donut ministry: reaching out to those who serve and protect.
Meet a physical need and spiritual sustenance:
- Provide and serve water for any 5K-ish fund raiser in your area or volunteer to help in other ways.
- Take donuts/cookies to your hospital’s ER waiting room. Check with hospital administration first (call the chaplain’s office).
- Do your own donut fundraiser. Work with a local donut shop to raise funds for a need in your area, i.e. a family recently displaced by fire, a family needing help with medical bills, your local Salvation Army.
- Provide a funeral home with a supply of large umbrellas or mobilize an umbrella brigade to help at your local hospital on rainy days.
Honor those who protect/serve:
- Take donuts to fire departments and police stations.
- Go to https://www.uso.org/locations to see if a USO center is near you. If so, contact the center to inquire about volunteer opportunities.
- Be a part of an Honor Flight return reception at your local airport (and take donuts).
Download a small-group Bible study of this post here.