Remember the Arizona grandma who accidentally invited over a total stranger for Thanksgiving, prompting a viral friendship?
To refresh, Wanda Dench was trying to reach her grandson to invite him over the Thanksgiving dinner. What she didn’t know was that her grandson had gotten a new phone number, and his old one had been reassigned. 17-year-old Jamal Hinton received the message instead, and rather than just deleting it, he responded.
Dench had meant to text the Thanksgiving plans to her 24-year-old grandson, Brandon Burgoyne — but he had recently switched his number and Hinton was assigned his old digits.
She realized the mistake when the two exchanged selfies — but when Hinton, 17, joked, “Can I still get a plate tho?” her response was immediate.
“Of course you can,” Dench texted. “That’s what grandma’s do… feed everyone.”
Hinton did make it over for the Thanksgiving holiday and the two struck up an instant friendship. Now, seven years later, they continue to carry on the tradition.
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It’s been a story that has captured the hearts of Americans everywhere. Dench and Hinton are pursued by media every year to see if they’ve kept up their annual meeting, and they say they are genuine friends who remain in touch throughout the year. In fact, Netflix has approached the pair to turn their heartwarming story into a show.
Hinton, now in his 20s, says that no matter what happens with their viral story moving forward, he and Dench have a special bond and will be friends for life.
“He’s literally changed my life and my point of view on young generations about being open to friendships when you think you have nothing in common with somebody,” noted Dench. “But when you just sit and talk to them? Oh my gosh… ”
“I honestly don’t know where I would be sometimes,” Hinton said. “It’s amazing to have her as a friend and as my family. We always talk about — I told her, ‘The cameras and the fame can stop tomorrow and nothing is changing between us.’ ”
“Absolutely,” Dench added. “He’s in my heart for life.”
The two don’t just talk on Thanksgiving, either. They’re in constant contact throughout the year, having dinners and catching up on the phone.
The Today Show caught up with the dynamic duo this year.
It's time for one of our favorite holiday traditions 🥺 The heartwarming tale of a grandmother mistakenly texting a teenage boy bringing the strangers together for Thanksgiving, has continued for a 7th year — and @kristendahlgren got a chance to catch up with them! pic.twitter.com/24SK9xSDJy
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 23, 2022
We love updating this story every year. At the time of the original story, America was in the heat of Trump Derangement insanity. There were many who viewed this as a surprising story of two people who are “very different” coming together, despite those differences. The truth is, this is a story of how we are more alike than we think (and more than the legacy media would have us believe). Hinton and Dench are living proof that America is filled with good, kind people who are willing to take a chance on their fellow Americans in the name of kindness. Two great Americans making a great American friendship.
This is truly the American spirit, and it makes all of us grateful.