“Rent,” the Waldo Theatre’s second summer musical, is about a group of friends in New York City’s lower east side during the height of the AIDS epidemic. It is as much a story about hope, friendship, love, art, finding one's self and strength as it is a about facing a fatal disease and combating the debilitating effects of hunger, homelessness, and addiction.

In an effort to maintain the essence of what “Rent” is all about, the Waldo Theatre will be collecting non-perishable food items, personal toiletries and donations for both the soon-to-reopen Hospitality House in Rockland and the Ecumenical Food Pantry in Newcastle. Red ribbons also will be available for purchase, with proceeds going to Equity Fights AIDS.

Hospitality House is a division of the Knox County Homeless Coalition, working to provide housing and rehabilitation to homeless individuals and families in Knox County.  The Ecumenical Food Pantry has been serving the Lincoln County community since 1989 and, in 2013 alone, has provided for 4334 individuals (more than 1500 families).

Items can be deposited at the back door of the downtown theater during rehearsals, Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A receptacle will be there for the donated items, which will be collected on a regular basis. Suggested items are diapers, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, canned food items, peanut butter, coffee, tea and cereal; please do not leave cash or checks.

Items also will be collected during performances, which will take place in two runs: Friday and Saturday nights, Aug. 16 and 17; and Sept. 13, 14, 20 and 21.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.