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KUNC is here to keep you up-to-date on the news about COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — Colorado's response to its spread in our state and its impact on Coloradans.

Look For The Helpers: Fort Collins Family Spreads Joy, Not Germs With Online Show

In times of distress, a quote from Mr. Rogers often comes up: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

In its recurring segment, "The Helpers," KUNC is collecting stories of people who are going above and beyond to aid others during this time of crisis.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Fort Collins filmmaker Doug Usher found himself at home with a lot of video equipment and nothing to film. So, he started making small videos featuring his family and sharing them on social media. Eventually, it evolved into a weekly online show, "Mornings with Maddie and Wake Up with Willow."

Hosted by daughters Maddie, 4, and Willow, 3, the 20-minute program features guests (via Skype), songs, stories and even a cooking segment. The show's catch-phrase is "Spread joy, not germs."

"It's fun because kids can get enjoyment out of seeing another kid and their experience," Usher said. "But for adults it's certainly funny to watch the disaster."

The goal was to find some humor in a world where not much seems very funny right now, said mom, Katie Meadows.

"I hope that it brings (viewers) a little bit of lightheartedness at a heavy time when we're all stuck inside. Lots of people are trying to work and teach and be a stay-at-home parent," Meadows said.

With Usher behind the camera, Meadows writes up storyboards for the girls using pictures, since the girls can't read yet. She can also be heard prompting them when they get off-topic — which isn't unusual with toddlers. Most of the show is livestreamed on Facebook, which means viewers see everything, including the occasional meltdown.

Showing the chaos of raising young children, along with the fact that life right now is messy, helps others know that what they're experiencing isn't unusual, Usher said.

"We could easily pre-record this show and make it not flawless, but streamlined," he added. "But that would defeat the purpose."

"Mornings with Maddie and Wake Up with Willow" airs at 10 a.m. Sundays on the show's Facebook page. If you know of a "Helper" making a difference, contact Stacy Nick at stacy.nick@kunc.org.

Stacy was KUNC's arts and culture reporter from 2015 to 2021.
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