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Grandma and teen who spent Thanksgiving together in 2016 reunite ahead of this year’s holiday

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Grandma and teen who’ve shared every Thanksgiving since 2016 when she accidentally invited him via text reunite – seven months after her husband died from COVID – and set a place at table for him

  • In 2016, Wanda Dench accidentally sent a text message to Jamal Hinton, inviting him to her Thanksgiving dinner
  • Dench and Hinton’s humorous exchange went viral, and the pair have since become firm friends and now celebrate every Thanksgiving together
  • In April of this year, Dench’s husband, Lonnie, tragically passed away from COVID-19
  • However, she decided that she still wanted to host a Thanksgiving dinner, and invited Hinton to her home on Friday for a small meal ahead of the holiday
  • Dench paid tribute to her late husband during the festivities, and placed a photograph of him on the dinner table 

By Andrew Court For Dailymail.com

Published: | Updated:

An Arizona grandmother and the stranger she accidentally invited to her 2016 Thanksgiving dinner have reunited for a meal ahead of this year’s holiday. 

Wanda Dench, 63, made international headlines four years ago when she sent a text message to Jamal Hinton, 21, that was meant for her grandson. 

Hinton ended up coming to Dench’s Thanksgiving celebration that year, and he has continued to do so every year since. 

However, the pair’s 2020 get-together is tinged with sadness, as Dench’s beloved husband, Lonnie, passed away from COVID-19 back in April. 

On Friday, Dench and Hinton shared an early Thanksgiving meal at her home in Mesa, where they paid tribute to her late spouse. 

‘I always remember Lonnie looking at the bright side of things,’ Hinton told The New York Times on Saturday. 

‘He would want us to celebrate his life instead of hating COVID and hating everything.’ 

Wanda Dench, 63, and Jamal Hinton, 21, enjoyed an early Thanksgiving dinner on Friday – seven months after Dench’s beloved husband, Lonnie, passed away from COVID-19. He was warmly remembered during the celebrations, and his photo was placed on the table (right) 

Hinton attended Dench’s early Thanksgiving dinner with his girlfriend, Mikaela. 

Dench’s daughter and grandson were also present for the festivity, where Lonnie was warmly remembered. 

The grandmother placed a photo of her late husband on the table and lit a candle for him. 

Arizona Family captured the poignant moment Dench gave thanks for the years she spent with Lonnie. 

‘Thank you for all the blessings, and thank you so much for having Lonnie in my life. I miss him, but I know he’s in a good place. So to everybody here, I love you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Amen,’ she stated before the food was served. 

Arizona Family captured the poignant moment Dench gave thanks for the years she spent with Lonnie

Following his death, Dench shared a message about how much love her husband had for others 

Lonnie died from COVID-19 on April 5, just days after contracting the coronavirus. 

Following his death, Dench shared a message about how much love her husband had for others. 

‘He had the truest heart of love, like no other,’ she posted on social media.

 ‘He did so many acts of kindness that no one ever heard about. He was my hero. And I’m a better person because of him.’  

Dench became a public figure back in 2016, after she accidentally texted Hinton inviting him to her family’s traditional holiday lunch in Mesa

Dench became a public figure back in 2016, after she accidentally texted Hinton inviting him to her family’s traditional holiday lunch in Mesa. 

Hinton, who was 17 years old at the time, told the grandmother that she had texted the wrong person, but then asked if he could ‘still get a plate tho?’ 

‘Of course you can, that’s what grandmas do, feed everyone’ Dench quickly replied.

Hinton stayed true to his reservation, and Dench hugged him the minute he walked up to her house.  

The pair have since become firm friends and celebrate the holiday together each year. 

Their annual meet-ups are documented on social media, to the delight of millions across the world.  

Dench and Hinton’s annual meet-ups are documented on social media, to the delight of millions across the world

Hinton also became close with Lonnie, and paid tribute to him at Friday’s dinner, stating: ”He would want us to celebrate his life instead of hating COVID and hating everything’

Hinton and his girlfriend are seen with Wanda and Lonnie Dench in an old social media snap

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