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Teen spends second Thanksgiving with Mesa family after viral exchange


PHOENIX — A Valley teenager who went viral on social media last year after accepting a stranger’s invitation for Thanksgiving dinner has gone back for seconds.

In a Twitter post, Jamal Hinton said he spent a second Thanksgiving with a woman who he had a viral exchange with last holiday.

Last year, Hinton was sitting in his high school’s seventh period when he received a text message telling him about Thanksgiving dinner plans from a number that he thought belonged his grandmother.

Hinton told KTAR News 92.3 FM that he was thinking “Thanksgiving, this could be my grandmother. She got a new number, because I got a new number too.'”

Just to be clear, Hinton asked the stranger for a photo of themselves — but when he received the photo, he realized something was not right.

The woman on the other end of the phone ended up being Wanda Dench, a Mesa woman with no relation to Hinton.

But Hinton was not about to back down from the invitation, asking Dench if he could still stop by. She replied, “Of course you can. That’s what grandma’s do…feed everyone.”

Hinton’s tweet eventually went viral, gaining more than 5,600 retweets and more than 9,800 likes.

On Thursday, Hinton posted a second tweet, with a series of photos showing him and Dench at Thanksgiving dinner together for two years in a row.

Dench told 12 News that she invited Hinton to her house again “guessing he probably had other family plans,” but like last year, the teenager did not turn down the invitation.

“She was so nice and welcoming last year, I said I would be there,” Hinton said. “She’s a great friend.”

But Dench said this would hopefully not be the last time the pair celebrated the holiday together.

“He always has an open invite to our house for Thanksgiving,” she told the news organization.

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