Jamal Hinton and Wanda Dench are keeping their touching tradition going in 2019

By Jason Duaine Hahn
November 27, 2019 02:39 PM

A grandmother from Arizona plans to once again reunite with the stranger she accidentally invited to Thanksgiving dinner over text message four years ago, continuing what has become a tradition for the two, according to ABC News.

It was in 2016 when Wanda Dench invited teenager Jamal Hinton over for dinner through a text that was meant for her 24-year-old grandson. Because her grandson had switched his phone number, the message was sent to Hinton, then 17, instead.

There was some initial confusion, and the two sent selfies to each other that confirmed the mix-up. But when Hinton asked if he could come over for dinner still, Dench — now 62, according to ABC News — texted back, “Of course you can. That’s what grandmas do … feed everyone.”

Hinton came over for dinner that year, and the reunion has turned into a holiday tradition ever since.

“It was so unexpected, but she was just so sweet about it,” Hinton previously told PEOPLE. “It was a reminder that there are still some good people left in this world.”

The two met shortly after their story went viral, and Hinton said they had a “great bond.”

Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton
| Credit: Jamal Hinton/Twitter

“She is a very sweet lady,” the then-high school student said at the time. “She told me her husband was a veteran and she always invited his friends over for dinner, so she’s used to having a lot of people over. I just got a vibe from her that made me feel at home.”

According to ABC News, Dench grew up in the military thanks to her father, who served in the Navy. Her husband is also an Army veteran.

“We moved around a lot so I was always going to new places. And so strangers were not strangers to me,” Dench said, according to the outlet.

“Family is more than blood,” she added. “It’s the people you want to be with.”

After their first meeting, Dench said she and Hinton had immediate chemistry.

“I just clicked when I met him and first talked to him,” Dench told NBC Nightly News. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to get to know this guy.’ ”

Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton
| Credit: Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic via AP

The Thanksgiving tradition has had a positive effect on both of the newfound friends.

“It gives me faith, a lot, in humanity because so many people have been kind,” Dench told NBC.

“It’s the power of technology, you know?” Hinton told PEOPLE. “But for a good reason.”

As the two look forward to Thanksgiving 2019, Hinton told Good Morning America, “[Wanda] is a really good person. I really enjoy the time I spend with her.”