See Jamal Hinton And ‘Thanksgiving Grandma’ Wanda Dench’s Thanksgiving Gatherings Through The Years


In 2016, Phoenix teenager Jamal Hinton received a text from an unknown number that . Hinton (then 17 years old) told PEOPLE at the time, “The text said, ‘Thanksgiving at my house’ and it was from a grandma, but I was like, ‘When did my grandma learn to text!?’ So I asked her for a picture and it definitely was not my grandma.” Hinton jokingly texted the grandma, a.k.a.

Wanda Dench, “Can I still get a plate tho?” to which she replied, “Of course you can. That’s what grandma’s do…feed every one.”

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

Thanksgiving 2016

Hinton spent the holiday with Dench’s family and friends in 2016. “She is a very sweet lady,” Hinton said of Dench. “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.”

Thanksgiving 2017

Dench told ABC News of inviting Hinton over after the texting mix-up, “We moved around a lot so I was always going to new places. And so strangers were not strangers to me.” “Family is more than gore,” she added. “It’s the people you want to be with.” The pair kept the tradition going in 2017, when they met again for Thanksgiving — this time with Hinton’s girlfriend, Mikaela, at the table! Hinton shared a photo of their second annual Thanksgiving, captioning it, “I guess you can say thanksgiving was one for the books

Thanksgiving 2018

In 2018, Hinton declared, “It’s a tradition now,” alongside a photo with Dench. “As promised! Here’s our 2019 update,” Hinton shared on Thanksgiving that year alongside photos of the celebration and throwback images from past Thanksgivings.

Hinton and his girlfriend have also gotten together with the Denches outside of Thanksgiving. “Blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives,” Hinton wrote of another 2019 selfie with Dench and her husband.

Thanksgiving 2020

In 2020, they met again for the holiday, though they were missing Dench’s husband, Lonnie, who depart in April 2020 after a bat-tle with COV-19. “This Thanksgiving, along with all the holidays coming up, aren’t going to be the same as past ones but we will make the best of it,” Hinton wrote in an Instagram post. “Rest In Peace to Lonnie and everyone else we lost this year we will miss you greatly. Thank you for being in our lives.”

Thanksgiving 2021

Hinton tweeted in November 2021, “We are all set for year 6!” He shared a photo from Thanksgiving 2019, and the text message from “Grandma Wanda” inviting him over for “good food and great conversation.”


Sara FoxI can’t get enough of this story. Brings a smile to my face every year. So happy they are keeping the tradition alive. But so sorry to hear Wanda lost her husband.

Heidi LynnThis is still the best story! And how much she probably looks forward to these gatherings after she lost her husband to covid. Surround yourself with the people you love and hold onto the memories

Diana Butler NicholasI’ve loved this story from the first Thanksgiving this started! Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Raquel K MatthewsI love this story. There are still good people in the world. Happy holidays to you and your family

Ursula MartineauThings happen for a reason, o glad that thid developed into a friendship, we often question why.

Make the most of it, life is too short. The world would be such s better place if we have more love like this.