Asheville, N.C.-based Volvo Rents last week announced it collected nearly five tons of food during its Hardhat Comedy Tour launched in November 2008. The company also collected monetary donations to assist local charities throughout the tour.

“All of us are carrying the burden of the economy; we forget how we can do something for others,” said Nick Mavrick, vice president of marketing for Volvo Rents, who thought of the idea one night while watching the Blue Collar Comedy Tour on TV. “After the show, people feel light. It’s a breath of fresh air.”

In 2009, Volvo Rents took its spin on comic relief to 14 cities across the United States and Canada. Offering free admission to the shows with at least three non-perishable food items or a monetary donation, the philanthropic initiative collected nearly five tons of food and more than $20,000 for various local food banks, as well as the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center and Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

Shows in Rochester and San Antonio have already been scheduled for 2010, with a dozen more in the planning stage.

The shows were headlined by nationally renowned comics, most notably Matt Kazam of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” Comedy Central’s Stand- Stand-Up” and VH1’s “Fools for Love.” Other featured comics included Carmen “The Construction Comic” Ciricillo, Jerry Carroll, Julie Scoggins, Ed Fox and Larry Weaver.

For more information about the Hardhat Comedy Tour, visit www.hardhatcomedy.com or www.volvorents.com/hardhatcomedy.

Volvo Rents is No. 19 on the RER 100.