SUMMIT, NJ - The 'Cold Weather Buddies' program -- a joint effort between SAGE Eldercare and Lincoln-Hubbard Elementary School to help older adults combat the loneliness and isolation they are experiencing during COVID-19 and the cold weather months -- has begun, with the school's fifth graders paired with a SAGE 'Meals on Wheels' client as a pen pal.

Through the support of the Lincoln-Hubbard PTO and principal Matt Carlin, students were given the first name of their new 'buddy' and asked to write a letter, draw a picture or both telling a bit about themselves and their interests. The program expands on a past connection between SAGE and the school wherein the school’s fifth graders visited SAGE every Spring to take part in the agency’s Sensitivity Training Program, which focuses on the challenges associated with aging.

Nina Tiger, Coordinator of SAGE’s 'Your Decisions Matter program' and a mother of two former Lincoln-Hubbard School students, said, “The Meals on Wheels clients we work with have a lot to deal with, including food insecurity as well as physical and sometimes cognitive challenges. The pandemic has been extremely hard on these people as many live alone and are so isolated. We wanted to do something to help and let them know someone cares.”

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“Cold Weather Buddies is a great way for kids to learn about the challenges of older adults and how much their act of kindness means to these older people, especially those living alone,” said Helen Griffith, Fifth Grade Chair at Lincoln-Hubbard Elementary School. “We are thrilled to be a part of this program. The fact that some of the Meals on Wheels clients are writing back is a wonderful bonus.”

For more information about how schools or organization can participate in the 'Cold Weather Buddy' program, contact Nina Tiger at ntiger@sageeldercare.org or call 908-598-5511.