CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Friday is Salvation Army Donut Day. It's a tradition that was started in Chicago in 1938.

It has since made it to Charlottesville and other Salvation Army locations nationwide.

Friday was a special day for donut lovers in the city. The Salvation Army of Charlottesville celebrates the 86-year-old tradition with the same spirit of charity that began the organization.

Before National Donut Day was established, the Salvation Army's appreciation of the tasty treat began on the battlefield in World War I.

General John Pershing, wanting to bring comfort to American troops fighting the war, allowed the Salvation Army to send over 200 women known as "Doughnut Lassies" to bring the pastry to soldiers in need.

"They used to fry the donuts in the soldier's helmets. That's how it started back in the day. So, Salvation Army has its roots in National Donut Day and making donuts popular in America," said Jim Battaglia, the development director with the Salvation Army in Charlottesville.

According to the Salvation Army's webpage, the National Donut Day tradition began as a community relief effort for people in Chicago during the Great Depression.

The Charlottesville Fire Department also participated and helped out. Wegman's on Fifth Street provided the donuts needed for the event.