Salvation Army honors officers, first responders on National Donut Day

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — When Keith Welch walked into the public safety headquarters with 12 boxes of Sweetwaters donuts, his wife Sherrie grabbed them and spread them out on the lobby table. Minutes later, a handful of police officers walked in and smiled.

“Our community is so blessed and appreciative of what the first responders do on a daily basis,” Sherrie said during an interview at the station. “But this is just one small way to say thank you.”

The Welches were among the group of Salvation Army staff and volunteers who delivered in total 72 boxes of donuts to police and fire departments throughout Kalamazoo County. The couple, who are both majors with the organization, made KDPS their first and only stop of the day.

“We just always want to come back and give these donuts on [National] Donut Day,” Keith said. “They’ve always been good to us. So we want to make sure that they understand that we appreciate what we do.”

Before the officers began eating the donuts, Keith presented them with a tile that kids in the neighborhood made to serve as coasters for their coffee cups.

“I think it’s a great gesture and we are extremely thankful,” said KDPS Lt. Scott Boling. “It’s nice that the community comes back and shows their appreciation towards the service law enforcement public safety provides for them.”

By the time the Welches took pictures with the officers and left the station, volunteer Heather Oestrike was delivering her three and half boxes to the crew at the Portage Police Department. The officers who met her near the front door were surprised.

“Who doesn’t want to start their day off with a donut right?” said Oestrike while shaking their hands. “Thank you for all that you do.”

Volunteers, like Oestrike — who’s also a board member with the organization — travelled to over 30 locations that morning. One volunteer named Barb, made two stops before handing Comstock firefighter Mike Flick his box of donuts.

“Just that the community outreach to us shows ‘hey we appreciate what you guys do,’” Flick said. “Day in and day out, running calls in the middle of the night, sometimes it’s not often seen by somebody if you don’t have an emergency. So it feels good to get recognized.”

Some of the volunteers also made stops at few military bases, the Welches said. They added that giving away donuts to servicemen and women is something the Salvation Army started doing during World War I. The cooks, or lassies as they were called, would make them on the battlefield for the soldiers whenever they felt homesick.

“They would actually take off their helmets and fry the donuts in their helmets in the trenches sometimes,” Sherrie said. “Donut Day is huge thing.”

Honoring officers in this way is something they will continue to do for years to come, she said. She's grateful Sweetwaters helped them with the event this year, giving them a discount on all the donuts.

“We’re just really appreciative to be able to come here and to have the police officers come out and enjoy these donuts,” Keith said. “It was a lot of fun.”

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