Friday is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, a pivotal point in history we should never forget to embrace with reverence.
Books have been written and movies have been made about those brave Allied forces who stormed the beaches at Normandy in World War II on June 6, 1944.
On a much lighter note, it also happens to be another kind of D day, involving a different kind of army.
Friday is National Doughnut Day. To celebrate, the Salvation Army of Central Georgia will be handing out free Krispy Kreme doughnuts starting at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of its thrift store at 3260 Mercer University Drive.
No, there won’t be one of those tempting red neon lights, like the ones in the window at Krispy Kreme, proclaiming the gospel of “Hot Doughnuts’’ to all who pass by.
There might be one of those red Salvation Army kettles, but no red light.
National Doughnut Day -- not to be confused with National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day in September and National Buy a Doughnut Day in October -- doesn’t always fall on June 6.
It spreads its calories on the early summer calendar and lands on the first Friday of June.
As they might say in dough biz, it is a sweet and “holey” day.
National Doughnut Day has been a Salvation Army tradition for 77 years, although longtime board member Richard Harris believes this is the first time it has been held in Macon. Harris has been on the Central Georgia board of directors since 1962, so he’s got 52 of those years covered.
“When I would ask the other officers, some were aware of it but none had ever heard of it being tried here,’’ Harris said.
Jennifer McElrath, communications director for the Central Georgia Salvation Army, is in charge of the glazed doughnut distribution.
The purpose is to generate awareness of the organization’s social service programs.
Krispy Kreme is donating the doughnuts, so they are cost-free (not calorie-free) while supplies last. Of course, folks will have an opportunity to make contributions, too.
McElrath is aware of the crowd-drawing capability when the word “free” and “doughnuts” are included in the same sentence.
Others, however, may wander over without knowing anything about it in advance. It will be their good fortune to show up on Friday morning to shop for a pair of socks and walk away with white icing on the corners of their mouth.
During World War I, female volunteers with the Salvation Army provided home-cooked meals and doughnuts to soldiers on the front lines. Because of limited resources, they sometimes had to fry the doughnuts in the helmets of soldiers.
(Although these women became known as “Doughnut Dollies,’’ it has nothing to do with the origin of “doughboys” to describe members of the U.S. infantry during World War I. That term actually has its roots as far back as the Mexican-American War in the 1840s.)
Harris came up with the idea to bring Doughnut Day in Macon. He is counting on it becoming an annual tradition.
“It’s a big push to let people in Macon know about the Salvation Army,’’ he said. “Our statistics show many of them know very little about it except for the kettles and bell ringers at Christmas. They are not aware of the programs and services we offer.’’
The Salvation Army has been in Middle Georgia since 1899. Last year, it provided 135,707 meals and 46,440 nights of shelter and other assistance to 23,144 people. It operates an emergency shelter, substance abuse shelter and domestic violence shelter. There are two worship centers and a community care program that provide visits to shut-ins and people in nursing care facilities.
McElrath expects Friday’s free treat to be a huge magnet in the community effort to “get the word out about who we are.’’
It’s more than just a doughnut.
It’s a teaching moment.
Contact Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.