COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Feeding the Valley Food Bank is “very proud” of a local teenager, Tyler Patterson, for raising donations of food for them, said Feeding the Valley President and CEO Frank Sheppard. For his senior project at Columbus High School, Patterson directed a one-act play and invited attendees to donate canned food for admission. The audience donated 384 pounds of food, which was enough to make 320 meals for families in the community, says a Feeding the Valley social media post.

“It’s great seeing the next generation of young folks coming along and getting involved in their community,” Sheppard said. “At a time when we’re experiencing an incredible food shortage in the secondary market where we operate, to have folks like this in the community step up and help us, it makes all the difference.”

The play Patterson chose was “The Night Witches” by Rachel Bublitz.

“The Night Witches, of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, flew in planes made of canvas and wood, and dropped their bombs on their German enemy every fifteen minutes through the night to keep them from sleeping,” says a description of the play at rachelbublitz.com. “They were constantly being shuffled and moved to perform new duties; mechanics would become navigators, navigators would become pilots and pilots would become commanders.”

Patterson said the play took place on Sunday, Dec. 18.

The cast was made up of students from different schools. They were Trinity Bledsoe, Amari Prier, Rosemary Gross, Macayla Henderson, Ares Hofer, Carter Brinegar, Conner Howard, Grace Diaz and Laney Flournoy.

Raising so much food for Feeding the Valley Food Bank was probably the “happiest” thing that came out of the project, Patterson said.

He said the project was extremely stressful, but in a good way.

“It was very relieving when it was all said and done because there was a lot of different aspects going into it,” he said. “A lot of planning and raising money for the show, and then making sure different shipments got in on time.”

Patterson said he was “astonished” by the work the cast did. He said the show wasn’t the type of production where one character could come in for a rehearsal; the characters’ roles heavily depended on one another.

“They worked together to solve different problems,” he said. “They didn’t always require me to help fix it. They sometimes even helped me fix some problems that I didn’t even realize were there. It was a learning moment for not just myself but for everyone in the process.”

Patterson said he’s donating money left over from the show to Springer Theatre Academy, which he said he’s been a part of for a while.

He said that his mentor, Keith McCoy, helped significantly throughout the project. McCoy is a resident artist at the Springer Opera House and has been in the theater industry for 25 years.