This grandma accidentally invited a teenager to Thanksgiving in 2016, now it's a tradition.

The Thanksgiving holiday means a lot of different things to people. It could be football, a celebration of chill autumn vibes, praising a deity, gluttony, family, or giving back to those who are less fortunate.

For many, it also represents people of all walks of life coming together in gratitude. Something that America needs a lot more of in these politically and racially-divided times.

Although there are many myths surrounding the first “Thanksgiving” in 1621, it’s believed that the pilgrims and the Wampanog tribe — two groups that couldn’t be more different — came together and enjoyed a feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest.


For the past three years, an unlikely guest has been coming to the Dench family Thanksgiving celebration in Arizona, Jamal Hinton.

Hinton was invited to the Dench celebration three years ago after Wanda Dench accidentally sent then 17-year-old Hinton a text meant for her grandson.

via Jamal Hinton

Jamal Hinton

via Jamal Hinton

After the two realized the text was in error, Hinton jokingly texted back, “Can I still get a plate tho?” and Dench responded, “Of course you can. That’s what grandmas do.”

Hinton accepted the invite, stopped by Dench’s Thanksgiving feast and the story went viral. The idea of strangers of different races opening their doors and hearts to one another was especially powerful after the racially-charged 2016 election.

During the dinner, Dench and Hinton struck up a meaningful friendship.

“I just clicked when I met him and first talked to him,” Dench told NBC News in 2016. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to get to know this guy,’ ” she said. “It gives me faith, a lot, in humanity because so many people have been kind.”

But their relationship didn’t end there.

Hinton was invited back for Thanksgiving in 2017 and he brought his girlfriend, Mikela, along with him.

And on Thanksgiving 2018, Hinton happily tweeted that he was back at the Dench house enjoying Thanksgiving once again with his girlfriend.

After three years, Dench and Hinton’s relationship is the perfect example of why Thanksgiving is so important. When someone opens their door and heart to  a stranger, it can be the beginning of a relationship that lasts forever.

Please pass the gravy … and a tissue.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less