By Shawn Chitnis

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – Men and women who love Christmas traveled across the country for the International Santa Celebration this weekend to improve their portrayals of Santa, Mrs. Claus, and elves. They’re hoping to make a greater impact on the children of all ages they interact with each holiday season.

“The thought of giving happiness, hope, love, is not a seasonal thing, it’s an everyday thing,” said one of Santa’s Helpers. “We are individuals who are out every day working to make our world a better place by showing the love that we have for each other.”

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One Santa Claus based in Colorado Springs that some may know as Dave Thomas, will receive an award from the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas this year for his service to their profession. But, he explained to CBS4 on Friday that it is much more than a job and that he grew up in a house that did not incorporate Santa in their holiday celebrations.

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“I had no inclination, no desire to be Santa Claus, I was more like the Grinch,” he said. “You don’t choose to be Santa, the suit calls you. It becomes a ministry. It becomes a passion, and it becomes a way of life.”

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Thomas says he noticed people associating him with Santa Claus after his hair turned white. He eventually embraced all the children wanting to call him “Santa” after he found family artifacts that tied back to “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” the famous poem better known as “Twas The Night Before Christmas” and the author of that poem.

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“You are seeing the largest group of giving individuals I believe in the world,” he said. “Watching the joy I put on the faces of children of all ages is absolutely contagious.”

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The biennial event is in Colorado this year and provides workshops on how to better portray the characters of Christmas. Teachers provide tips on using newer technology to help young kids make the connection to the classic story of Mr. and Mrs. Claus. There is also a vendor fair that sells all types of themed products to help enhance the experience they create for children across the country.

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“I thought I was a fairly kind and gentle soul to begin with, I think I’ve magnified that quite a bit,” he said. “It’s a love and a passion for changing the world around us every day.”

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The gathering of Santa’s Helpers comes at a time when people are easily divided on a variety of issues and may be quick to give someone the cold shoulder. Thomas believes the spirit of Saint Nicholas and his modern incarnation help to warm the hearts of many people on any given day of the year.

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“Santa doesn’t take sides, Santa doesn’t have a political affiliation, Santa just loves all unconditionally,” he said. “Santa is needed today more than ever in the world we live in.”

Even the recognition he will receive this weekend and talking about the kind acts he completes week after week goes against the teachings he follows. Thomas says the origin of Saint Nicholas comes from giving to others under the cover of darkness. But the light that guides all of these Santas is a universal mission that does not change from one season to the next.

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“Go out and share a smile and make the world a better place around you,” he said. “Give back because the world needs it.”

Shawn Chitnis reports for CBS4 News at 10 on weekends and CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. throughout the week. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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