Most people would never imagine toothpaste would bring children joy, but a Borehamwood couple say essentials we hardly think about are cherished luxuries to the children they help.

Kathleen and Den Dover have been getting into the Christmas spirit by helping send more than 30,000 presents to children in poorer countries.

The grandparents, of Furzehill Road, Borehamwood, have been busy filling shoeboxes with gifts for children in Swaziland and have visited schools across the community, including St Teresa’s in Brook Road, Borehamwood, to inspire pupils to do the same.

The young people got to work and filled shoeboxes with essentials from three categories – hygiene, education and fun – with things that children in England take for granted.

Mrs Dover, a retired nurse, said: “It is great to think you have been a part of bringing a child a bit of pleasure. Most of these kids survive off food and toys found in rubbish tips.

“I have been doing this for nine years and we get sent a video of the kids receiving their gifts.

"To see the joy and excitement on their faces is just indescribable. I am very proud of all the selfless school children who made sacrifices to bring a little joy and a smile to another child.

“It also helped them appreciate how much they really have here. They were all very moved by what I told them.

“The thing that struck them the most was that essentials we do not give a second thought to – such as toothpaste – bring these kids so much joy.”

Mrs Dover, 73, and her husband, 75, send the shoeboxes off to a different country every year through the Samaritans Purse ‘Operation Christmas Child’ campaign.

The couple, who have four children, got involved with the campaign through their church nine years ago and have not looked back since.

Last year, they managed to send over 19,000 boxes to needy children but smashed that figure this year by sending 30,250 boxes to the kids in Swaziland.

The boxes were sent off from the couple’s warehouse dedicated to the cause in Centennial Park, Elstree, last week.

Mrs Dover added: “Considering the climate we are in, where everybody is tightening their belt, it is refreshing to see that people can still give to charity in this way.

“Knowing I have helped bring a smile on the faces of needy children this year is the best Christmas present of all.”