Huntington, IN – On Saturday, April 14, The Salvation Army and officials from the Indiana World War I Centennial Commission will join members of the Huntington community for a celebration of one of their most famous residents. Helen Purviance, a Huntington native, was one of the first Salvationists sent to the front lines in France in 1917 to aid American soldiers. She is best remembered as the first Salvation Army “donut girl” and her ingenious solution to the challenge of creating home cooking under enemy fire forever defined The Salvation Army’s role in the war and led to the creation of National Donut Day in 1938.

Helen Purviance in France

The commemoration takes place in the Huntington County Courthouse rotunda and on the courthouse square in downtown Huntington. It brings together many civic and community leaders, including those from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Indiana National Guard, VFW Post 2689, Huntington County Historical Museum, American Legion, Huntington City/Township Public Library, and the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce.

Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters and Huntington County Commissioner Larry Buzzard will also present an official proclamation recognizing Purviance’s bravery and compassion in the face of great danger.

The public is welcome to attend and enjoy fresh donuts made using the original WWI recipe. Huntington College students dressed as WWI donut girls will hand out donuts and poppies to guests. Displays of WWI and Salvation Army donut girl artifacts will be set up in the Huntington County Courthouse and Huntington City/Township Public Library.

Captains Dennis and Antonia Marak, who operate The Salvation Army Huntington Corps Community Center, have been working with the community to ensure that Helen Purviance’s story is shared 100 years after her donuts brought comfort and a taste of home to young American soldiers.

Learn more:

The Salvation Army Donut Girls: A Look Back 100 Years

Indiana World War I Commission