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Lonnie Dench Wanda Dench Jamal Hinton Thanksgiving

Source: Jamal Hinton / @kingjamal08

A viral text exchange from 2016 transformed an honest mistake into a beautiful annual tradition for one Arizona family. Wanda Dench, who sent the text to student Jamal Hinton meant for her grandson, has lost her husband to COVID-19 after Hinton recently shared the family was sick.

In 2016, Mrs. Dench sent a text to who she thought was her grandson. When it was discovered that she had the wrong number, Hinton still requested a plate to which Mrs. Dench agreed. Hinton and the Dench family connected annually in Mesa after that, becoming a true family while continuing the tradition. Hinton shared on April 1 via social media that the Denches fell ill and asked his followers for support.

“I am so sad to announce that Wanda and Lonnie both have COVID-19 and that Lonnie is currently in the hospital fighting both COVID and Pneumonia please send words of love and encouragement their way,” Hinton tweeted.

Hinton shared again via social media that Mr. Dench passed away from symptoms related to the coronavirus this past Sunday.

“As some of you may have already found out tonight Lonnie did not make it… he passed away Sunday morning😔 but Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys for that.”

Local outlet and journalist Briana Whitney published a moving tribute to the memory of Lonnie Dench and how the Dench family’s shining example is a testament that loving your neighbor can truly change lives in amazing ways.

Rest Powerfully In Peace, Lonnie Dench. Hold a plate for us.

Photo: Twitter