Jamal and Wanda Dench accidentally met back in 2016, and have been friends ever since.
Back in 2016, a 17-year-old boy named Jamal Hinton received a text from a random number, inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner. For the following six years, Hinton has made a tradition of spending his holiday with a former-stranger-now-grandma named Wanda Dench.
At the time, Dench believed that she was sending a message to her own grandson, but after some confusion, Hinton asked for a photo. “You not my grandma,” he replied along with a selfie. “Can I still get a plate tho?” Dench responded, “of course you can. That’s what grandma’s do…feed every one.”
“Somebody grandma is coming in clutch this year!! Aye!!!” he tweeted on November 15th, 2016. Yesterday, he updated his followers with an annual Thanksgiving selfie, as is customary. The first and second pictures includes only Hinton and Dench, but in 2018, her husband, Lonnie, and Hinton’s girlfriend, Mikaela, joined in.
2019 saw the same four faces, but in 2020, Lonnie Dench tragically lost his life after a battle with COVID. Jamal, Wanda, and Mikaela posed with a photo of the late man, honouring his memory and including him in their special tradition. “Thought I’d share these with you guys. We miss you Lonnie,” Hinton captioned two video clips that show the group hanging out at a pumpkin patch together from the year before.
The story of the unlikely friends tends to go viral around this time every year, even earning attention from major outlets like ABC News. “I just clicked when I met him and first talked to him,” Wanda said in an interview, discussing her first in-person interaction with Jamal. “Oh my gosh, I want to get to know this guy.”
Check out Jamal’s “Dinner with Wanda” YouTube video below.