Feel-Good Friday: Thanksgiving edition

The story of Jamal Hinton and Wanda Dench of Phoenix, Arizona is still going strong. The two became accidental friends when Wanda thought she was texting her grandson and instead got Jamal. That was seven years ago and Jamal still has a place at Wanda’s Thanksgiving table.

Wanda texted her grandson about Thanksgiving, or so she thought, and when Jamal responded by explaining she had the wrong number, he turned it into an opportunity to make a new friend. He wanted everyone to know they had Thanksgiving plans as usual this year, too.

It’s a cute story.

The newfound friends went viral seven years ago when Jamal tweeted out a text exchange between him and Wanda, a stranger who had accidentally texted Jamal thinking he was her grandson. Though Jamal told Wanda he wasn’t her grandson, he followed up with, “Can I still get a plate though?” Wanda agreed and invited him over because “that’s what grandmas do … feed everyone.”

Their friendship has grown to more than just meeting up for Thanksgiving. They’ve visited pumpkin patches together and Jamal has shared gifts with Wanda and her late husband, Lonnie. Lonnie passed away in 2020 from complications from COVID-19. Jamal helped Wanda through her grief, even after she hesitated to host Thanksgiving that year. “I wasn’t looking forward to [Thanksgiving dinner] at first because Lonnie wasn’t going to be there,” Wanda shared in an 2020 CNN interview. “The past seven months have been so difficult, but this was really important to me.” Dinner went on as usual, though, and Jamal and Wanda shared stories about Lonnie and told jokes to each other.

Jamal is grateful for Wanda’s friendship and the public’s interest in their story, too.

There’s a Netflix deal.

“This story has been amazing from the start to the finish,” Jamal said. “It actually helps me get through the year sometimes to see so many uplifting comments, to see so many people looking forward to our story that I just love it all.”

It’s a nice story. We can all use a feel-good story these days.



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I have a dear friend, a single mom heroically raising three boys. As if that isn’t enough reason to provide