COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — National Doughnut Day, which is Friday, has a rich history behind it that even involves the Salvation Army.

During World War I, the Salvation Army sent female volunteers overseas to boost morale, where they provided writing supplies, stamps, home-cooked meals — and doughnuts.

“It comes back to doughnuts, that’s what they were able to make on the front lines,” said Major Tricia Brennan, the area coordinator for the Salvation Army of Central Ohio. “They would use their helmets to fry the ingredients that they had for the doughnuts, and they were able to do that on a pretty regular basis.”

When the U.S. was in the middle of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Salvation Army knew how much the volunteers — known as donut lassies — were able to help soldiers, and they wanted to share that with all Americans.

National Doughnut Day was created.

“It was a way to try and meet needs and build morale during the Depression, but also commemorate the work of the donut lassies in World War I,” Brennan said.

The Salvation Army of Central Ohio wanted to make sure the legacy of the donut lassies lives on, so they paired with Buckeye Donuts on South High Street. On Friday morning, the first 50 customers at the shop were given a free doughnut.

“They get a little more information about the history of Doughnut Day, and they enjoy a really wonderful donut that has been donated to us by Buckeye Donuts,” says Major Brennan.

It’s a win for both the Salvation Army and Buckeye Donuts.

“We’re always about giving back to our community and there’s nobody who has a better track record for giving back to the community than the Salvation Army,” said Louis Sauter, Buckeye Donuts owner.