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Wrong text that led to a Thanksgiving tradition still going strong 7 years later

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2023 - 12:48pm
Updated: Thursday, November 23, 2023 - 12:49pm
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Sending a text to the wrong number kicked off a new Thanksgiving tradition for one Prescott woman. It’s still going —  and growing —  seven years later.

When Wanda Dench texted her grandson to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner in 2016, she was not expecting what came next.

“I didn’t know he changed his phone number, so it went to a total stranger,” Dench said. “And this stranger asked, ‘Who are you?’ And I told him, ‘It’s your grandma.’ And he said, ‘Send me a picture.’ I did. He sent me his picture and said, ‘You ain’t my grandma, but can I have a plate?’”

She said it was a no-brainer.

“I said, ‘Yeah, well, of course you can,’” Dench recalled. “That’s what grandmas do, we feed everyone.”

And Jamal Hinton of Mesa has come over every year since.

When his tweet about that first Thanksgiving went viral, Dench said, “I ended up with 600 text messages that night, of everybody around the world asking to come to my house for Thanksgiving.”

This year, Dench welcomed just one new face to her table.

“Airbnb decided to partner with us and asked if I could open my home to a total stranger,” she said. “And I said, ‘Sure.’ So a young man came from New York.”

Earlier this week, Dench said they sat down to a meal together and “just had a total blast.”

Looking back, she said the experience has shown her that if you open up your heart, you can make friends in unlikely places — and that misdirected text was one of the best things to happen to her.

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