Retired Washington State Couple Crosses Country to Work at Shoebox Processing Center

December 14, 2017 • United States
Marjorie and David Van Boven helped to send shoeboxes on their way to children in need by serving on staff at the Boone Processing Center.
Marjorie and David Van Boven helped to send shoeboxes on their way to children in need by serving on staff at the Boone Processing Center.

After crossing the country in their RV, David and Marjorie Van Boven work to help process thousands of shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child in Boone, North Carolina.

David and Marjorie Van Boven of Blaine, Washington, wanted to do something purposeful in their retirement, so they signed up to serve on staff for 4-5 weeks at the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center in Boone, North Carolina.

Operation Christmas Child

One of eight shoebox processing centers across the country, the Boone Processing Center welcomes thousands of volunteers every year to inspect and process shoebox gifts for international shipping between mid-November and mid-December. But it also relies on seasonal paid staff like the Van Bovens to speed the shoeboxes on their way to children in need around the world.

“We’re just amazed at this operation,” said Marjorie, who works as a guide to welcome and orient volunteers as they come to serve. The Boone Processing Center is part of the Samaritan’s Purse international headquarters complex.

Marjorie enjoys sharing stories of how God has used shoebox gifts to change lives.

As she orients volunteers, Marjorie enjoys sharing stories of how God has used shoebox gifts to change lives.

David, who serves as a parking lot attendant, appreciates the focus of the organization. “A couple things we really like about Samaritan’s Purse [are] the evangelical focus of doing hands-on things [together] with the Gospel message and with Biblical parameters. It’s not that common.”

David retired from 40 years in the pastorate earlier this year. While serving a church on Orcas Island, Washington in the mid-1990s, he first learned of Operation Christmas Child from Rosa Montgomery, Ruth Bell Graham’s sister and aunt of Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham. The church got involved and faithfully packed between 50 to 75 shoebox gifts every year in part through their pastor’s encouragement. The more Rosa and her husband Don shared about Samaritan’s Purse, the more David and Marjorie supported the organization.

David felt Operation Christmas Child was important to promote in the churches he served to “get parents and families to think about somebody beyond themselves. The hands-on engagement is really valuable.”

David and Marjorie both retired recently—David from a church in Salem, Oregon, and Marjorie from serving as an administrator for an Oregon state senator. Selling their home, they bought a fifth-wheel RV and in September, they headed east out of Washington to begin a tour of the perimeter of the continental United States.

As they planned their trip, they thought about volunteering at the Boone Processing Center, but then they discovered online that jobs were also available.

“We’ve found it spiritually rejuvenating to be part of a group effort,” David said. “A lot of our ministry has been lonely. This isn’t that.” The camaraderie at the processing center has been a blessing.

“I would recommend it in a heartbeat,” Marjorie said. “I’d also volunteer—it wouldn’t matter to me either way.”

For more information, click here to go to our seasonal (paid) staff hub page.

To find out about volunteering at a processing center, go here.

Shoebox processing Centers close this week around the country. Please pray for the delivery of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes over the next months and for the spread of the Gospel through them.

Operation Christmas Child Through Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse is sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with millions of boys and girls in more than 100 countries each year. Many of these children have never before received a present or heard the true meaning of Christmas—until they open a gift-filled shoebox from a person like you. Some people are not able to give the $10 per shoebox we request for shipping and related costs. By adopting a shoebox, you can partner with them to deliver the Gospel and help "bring salvation to the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47, ESV).

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Adopt a Shoebox: $10 | Adopt a Carton of 15 Boxes: $150