He went viral for inviting a stranger to Thanksgiving and now they celebrate their sixth year together

In November 2016, the young American Jamal Hinton, who was 17 years old, received a message by mistake on his mobile. It was Wanda Dench, who thought she was inviting her grandson for Thanksgiving dinner. First, Hinton asked him who he was, then they exchanged a couple of selfies and confirmed that they were not related. However, Hinton did not waste the opportunity: “Can I still go to dinner?” Dench’s response couldn’t have been better: “Sure it is. That’s what grandmothers do… They feed everyone ”.

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Since then, each year, Hinton (now 22) and Dench (64) they get together as a family to celebrate one of the most important dates on the United States calendar. Generally, he goes from Phoenix, Arizona, to the neighboring city of Mesa, which is about 30 minutes away, where Dench lives.

“We are ready for the sixth year!”Hinton tweeted Sunday along with a screenshot of a message from Dench inviting him, his girlfriend Mikaela and their family for Thanksgiving dinner once again.

Hinton also shared a photo of himself, Dench, Mikaela, and Dench’s late husband Lonnie, who died in April 2020 after a battle with COVID-19.

Speaking about his Thanksgiving tradition, Hinton previously told People magazine that “It was so unexpected, but she was so sweet about it.”.

“It was a reminder that there are still some good people left in this world.”he added about Dench. “She is a very sweet woman, she told me that her husband was a veteran and that he always invited his friends to dinner, so she is used to receiving a lot of people. I just got a vibe from her that made me feel at home. “

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Friendship beyond Thanksgiving

Over the years, Hinton has documented every Christmas gathering on her social media, often taking photos with Dench and her husband at their Arizona home.

Hinton and his girlfriend have also met the Denches outside of Thanksgiving, including in 2019 when they went to a pumpkin patch together, according to Hinton’s Instagram.

“It is a blessing to have such wonderful people in our lives”Hinton wrote about another 2019 selfie with Dench and her husband.

In honor of Lonnie

In April 2020, Hinton revealed on Instagram that Dench and Lonnie had tested positive for COVID-19. “I am saddened to announce that Wanda and Lonnie have COVID-19 and that Lonnie is currently in the hospital fighting against coronavirus and pneumonia, please send them words of love and encouragement “, wrote.

Just seven days later, Hinton shared the heartbreaking news that Lonnie had died on April 5 due to complications with the virus. “Wanda told me that all the love and support she was receiving put a big smile on her face, so I thank each of you for that!”he added on Instagram.

Despite her husband’s death, Dench still celebrated Thanksgiving at her home that year and invited Hinton and Mikaela to join. As in previous years, Dench and Hinton took a photo together that Thanksgiving, but also they made sure to honor Lonnie showing a photo of him in the shot.

“This Thanksgiving, along with all the upcoming holidays, will not be the same as the previous ones, but we will make the most of it.”Hinton wrote in an Instagram post. Rest in peace Lonnie and everyone else we lost this year, we will miss you very much. Thank you for being in our lives “.

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