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Salem's Salvation Army Doughnut Story
 

"1947 - It was natural to offer coffee and doughnuts, and a booth was set up during the Oregon State Fair on the porch of the Agriculture Building. Sufficient funds were raised that first year to repair both the officer quarters and the Corps' building. But this was just the start of the story. . . . ."

Background on the Salvation Army and doughnuts
It was undoubtedly The Salvation Army's involvement with doughnuts during the First and Second World Wars that suggested to the officers and soldiers of the Salem Corps that coffee and doughnuts might be a natural at a Salvation Army Booth for the State Fair.

Before we discuss the significance of the Salem doughnuts, however, perhaps we should review the story of the first Salvation Army doughnuts which became legend during the First World War. America was reluctant to enter that War but, once the decision was made, National Sal-vation Army Commander Evangeline Booth (yes, Founder William Booth's daughter) approached our President and asked if The Salvation Army could be of assistance to our military.

Initially, the President was reluctant to put Salvationists in jeopardy, but Evangeline Booth persuaded him with the thought that the men would need spiritual help and other encouragement during that time and, soon, Salvation Army troops were permitted to be on the front lines ministering not only to spiritual needs, but also assisting those men to keep in tough with their families, serving coffee and doughnuts and a cheery smile, and just generally helping in many little ways, and the men never forgot it.

Salem's doughnut hut
Following that war, in 1946, Captain and Mrs. Lesher found themselves in charge of a Salem Corps whose building was in need of repair. It was natural to offer coffee and doughnuts, and a booth was set up during the Oregon State Fair on the porch of the Agriculture Building. Sufficient funds were raised that first year to repair both the officer quarters and the Corps' building. But this was just the start of the story. . . . .

Subsequent years found the Army again in that location, and the tradition of The Salvation Army doughnut grew in Salem. Donut Daze was initiated between 1956 and 1958. The Salvation Army booth is opened at the State Fair in Salem. It will continue through 1974. 

As the rental fees went up on the Fairgrounds, the Army tried a different tactic. They would sell doughnuts from the Corps' building and, eventually, from a small doughnut hut adjacent to the Corps' building. This becomes very popu-lar with the community and State employees. By this time, there was a vast amount of support from many individuals such as Major Helena Sainsbury, her sister Mrs. Major Earl West, Dorothy and Harry Trenoweth, Fred Yarbrough, Brigadier and Mrs. Brigadier Edith Bennett, David and Jean Vanderhoff, and numerous others helped make, sell, and deliver the doughnuts--literally hundreds of dozens of doughnuts throughout Salem. Even the young people of the Corps wanted to get involved. Eventually, the doughnut machine itself needed repair and, again, necessity required a new approach.

Salem's International Food Circus
The International Food Circus. About that time, significant changes began to take place in the life of the Corps and its interaction with the community of Salem. Corps Sergeant Major Harry Trenowith was a well-respected man but of advanced years. In time, it was deemed that Salem should have a new Corps Sergeant Major, and the chosen designee was Envoy Jim Horgen. Jim's wife, Shirley, operated a preschool child care center in Salem known as the Lollipop Tree.

Shirley had an idea that she felt had merit. Gathering the soldiery of the Corps around her, she explained that we could eat our way around the world and benefit the Army's work in other countries in the process. All we needed to do was determine which countries we would like to represent in any given year, prepare food dishes from that country, and invite the community to experience each unique country and enjoy that uniqueness through the cuisine being of-fered. It worked very well, and The Salvation Army has done that annually in the month of October for 25 years.

Researched and composed by Florence Robb and David Vanderhoff, 2003

 

 
Making donuts
Louise Holgate is surrounded by hot, fresh doughnuts as Salvation Army Donut Daze got under way. Holgate was joined by a half dozen volunteer bakers. The doughnuts, cost $1.75 a dozen. Proceeds from the venture will help build facilities at Camp Trestle Glen, the Salvation Army statewide camp near Estacada.
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Oregon State Fair
Oregon State Fair
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