SUMMIT, NJ — In an effort to combat the loneliness and isolation older adults are experiencing during COVID-19 and the cold weather months, SAGE Eldercare partnered with fifth-grade students at Lincoln-Hubbard School to start a pen pal program with Meals on Wheels clients called Cold Weather Buddies. In the past, 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.
SAGE’s Nina Tiger presented the idea to the school’s principal, Matt Carlin, and the PTO. A mother of two former Lincoln-Hubbard School students, Tiger was hopeful the PTO would embrace the program, even with the stress of partial remote schooling.
“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,” said Tiger. “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.”
The PTO loved the idea. Students were given a buddy’s first name and asked to write a letter, draw a picture or both, telling a bit about themselves and their interests.
“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 chairperson at Lincoln-Hubbard 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 your school or organization can participate in Cold Weather Buddies, contact Tiger at email@example.com or 908-598-5511.
Since 1954, SAGE Eldercare has been helping make the communities it serves amazing places to age. The organization provides information, support, and services designed to help individuals lead the most independent and active lives possible. SAGE is committed to being the leading provider of programs and services to meet the changing needs of older adults, their families, and caregivers throughout Union, Essex, Morris and Somerset counties. For more information, call 908-273-5550 or visit www.sageeldercare.org.
Photos Courtesy of Cindy Potters