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FILE: Dining table filled with Thanksgiving food (Photo credit: Getty Images)

PHOENIX, Ariz. (WIAT) – What started as a text message to the wrong number has grown into a tradition six years in a row.

In 2016, Wanda Dench texted someone she thought was her grandson about her Thanksgiving plans. In fact, Dench accidentally texted Jamal Hinton, who was 17 at the time.

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

“I said, ‘Of course you can. “That’s what grandmothers do – they feed everyone,” Dench told NBC affiliate KPNX at the time.

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

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

Last year, Dench and her husband, Lonnie, were diagnosed with COVID-19. As Dench recovered, her husband died of pneumonia and the virus.

Dench has always invited Hinton 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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