WASHINGTON (NBC) — When Jamal Hinton received a Thanksgiving dinner invite text from an unknown number, he was confused.
But now, the misplaced missive has led to a heartwarming cross-generational friendship.
It all began Tuesday when the high school senior from Phoenix, Arizona, received a group text indicating that Thanksgiving dinner would be served at 3 p.m. this year.
“I thought it was either a wrong number or my grandma learned how to use a phone correctly,” Hinton told NBC News.
Hinton texted back asking for a photo and received a selfie in return. The woman, Wanda Delch, was of no relation, a stranger to him.
Hinton, 17, jokingly responded: “you not my grandma. Can I still get a plate tho?”
Delch happily obliged. “I said you sure can, that’s what grandma’s do,” Delch told NBC News.
The pair met Wednesday night — and Delch extended the invitation to Hinton’s entire family.
“I’ve got to figure out how big a turkey I need for 20 people,” said Delch.
Their story, reported by Buzzfeed on Wednesday morning, immediately went viral. The tale was seen by nearly two million people and re-tweeted over 120,000 times. It had clearly touched a nerve for millions of Americans.
“We’ve noticed that people are seeking these feel good, you know, uplifting heartwarming humanizing stories,” Tanya Chen, a Buzzfeed editor, told NBC News.
Earlier this year, a similar story garnered national attention when a Georgia couple mistakenly sent a group text to strangers about their new baby boy. The recipients, whom the couple had never met, showed up at the hospital with gifts.
For Hinton and Dench, the message mix-up has sparked a friendship in the season of giving and reflection.
“I feel like everybody sees this joy that two people, two strangers can actually connect,” said Hinton.