Grandmother, teen who accidentally met over text sharing 6th Thanksgiving

National

In this Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016 photo, Jamal Hinton and Wanda Dench take a selfie together after meeting at Wanda’s home for Thanksgiving dinner, in Mesa, Ariz. Dench, who accidentally texted Hinton, a stranger, an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner made good on her offer, greeting the teen visitor with a hug and an oven full of food after their story swept through social media. (Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic via AP)

PHOENIX, Ariz. (WIAT) — What started off as a text to the wrong number has become a tradition six years running.

In 2016, Wanda Dench sent a text message to someone she thought was her grandson about his Thanksgiving plans. In reality, Dench had accidentally texted Jamal Hinton, who was 17 at the time.

Hinton received the message while sitting in his high school class, reported sister station WXIN, and jokingly asked if he could come along anyway.

“I said, ‘Sure you can.’ That’s what grandmas do – they feed everybody,” Dench told NBC affiliate KPNX at the time.

After Hinton posted the text message on Twitter, the story went viral and a holiday tradition was born.

This week, Hinton confirmed that he and Dench were preparing to spend their sixth Thanksgiving together.

Last year, both Dench and her husband, Lonnie, were diagnosed with COVID-19. While Dench recovered, her husband died due to complications from pneumonia and the virus.

Dench still invited Hinton over for Thanksgiving in 2020, conceding that the year had been difficult but adding that it “was really important to me” to continue the accidental tradition.

A photo of Lonnie Dench was placed at the table with a lit candle, WXIN reported.

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