Ellie, 13, is one of 18 middle-school volunteers who regularly visit residents at the Kaplan Family Senior Residence, an assisted-living kosher facility in River Vale, N.J., as part of a Chabad-Lubavitch-run program that brings teens and seniors together.

“I think it is so much fun, and it makes the residents so happy,” said Ellie. “I just ask a lot of questions, and it makes their whole day.”

Each session focuses on a Jewish holiday or theme, and entails that the students and the seniors—most in their 80s and 90s—work together on a craft project and engage in informal conversation.

Thelma, an 81-year-old resident who declined to provide her last name, noted that “these kids are so respectful; they are compassionate and kind. They are always willing to help me. My grandchildren live far away, so when the kids from ‘Linking Hearts’ are here, it reminds me of [them]. What a great afternoon it is when they come!”