OnlyOnAOL: Allison Williams launches this year's coolest charity endeavor
By: Donna Freydkin
Last year, Allison Williams launched her first campaign to raise money for Horizons National, which provides summer enrichment programs for underserved kids nationwide. She promised to hand-write thank you notes to everyone who contributed.
"I ended up having to write several hundred notes. It took me months. It is an incredibly personal endeavor. I have pen pals as a result of it," says Williams, who plays Marnie on "Girls." (Watch an interview with her "Girls" costars above).
"I'm a big note-writer. It caused actual legitimate damage to my hand, which sounds so crazy but it's true. But I found it so rewarding."
Clearly, because on May 3, she's kicking off her "10 Days of Giving" campaign, which runs through May 12 and is conducted entirely through her social media channels: Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat (awilly88). Every day, Williams will post a surprise product that a brand has donated to the cause, and donors will receive said product in exchange for giving to Horizons. Those include items from Jennifer Meyer (jeweler to the stars), Lancer skincare (posh LA-based dermatologist's line), a rose gold Macbook, and many more. Plus, every single donor will receive a personal note from Williams.
"This is the second installment. Last year, I offered candy and a hand-written note in return for a donation. I ordered a hundred sheets of stationary and thought I was being over-enthusiastic and overly positive about how it might go," she says. "This year I wanted to do something bigger to try and engage people. I'm doing ten days this year. I picked the companies and products because I loved them."
Williams isn't one to pay lip service to charity. She got started early, and always had a connection with Horizons; her brother was a counselor and her mom runs the board. Her husband is also on the board. "My parents, starting from when I had any income, they told me to put aside ten percent of what you make a year to give away," she says. "It's a part of our life."
And part of her upbringing. Laziness isn't part of Williams' vocabulary.
"I have always had a job. I have always had an income. I have a work ethic. I never needed to be reminded to do my homework. I'm a total education enthusiast. I want all kids to have what I had," says Williams, who graduated from Yale. "My parents, who did not grow up wealthy, were puzzled about how to raise kids that were more fortunate than they are. How do you raise kids to have a good perspective? My parents made a point of emphasizing the luck of the draw, that I was born into this family."
Williams' day job, of course, is playing musician Marnie on "Girls." The acclaimed HBO series, created, written by and starring Lena Dunham, is going into its final season, with Marnie finally admitting her love for Ray. The vibe on set: sweet and melancholy.
"We just started. We haven't started filming yet. Lena is still writing. I don't know much about it. I'm very reluctant to start shooting. It will mean the beginning of the end. I'm going to cherish every second I have with this group of people while I still can do it. We love each other so much. We're so close as a cast and crew," says Williams.