The Giving Keys

BY: JULIE CHUNG

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Hope. Strength. Believe. Courage. Sometimes it only takes one word to spark an inspiration, and The Giving Keys strives to do just that.

Musician and actress Caitlin Crosby created The Giving Keys, an accessory company that incorporates recycled keys, to provide the homeless with employment opportunities and bring people together in the process.

While on tour last year, Crosby had the idea to make her hotel key into a necklace and then started selling similar key accessories at the merchandise tables during her tour. Once the key sales flourished, she knew there was something special to them.

All the keys sold on The Giving Keys’ website are old and used, but are different and unique just like people. There is a list of words to choose from that can be engraved on the keys, as well as a “custom” option that allows people to type in a word of their choice for a personalized key.

“Each [key] is one of a kind and they all have different words on them,” Crosby said.

Once the online store gained momentum, people started sharing stories on the website about their journey with the keys.

“I always had the idea of passing it along and paying it forward, and that’s the concept of The Giving Keys too,” Crosby said.

The online stories share why people chose the inscribed word on their key and how it helped them.

Crosby hopes that people will buy these keys with the intent of giving them away at some point in their lives.

“I passed my ‘love’ key on to a best friend who was having a hard time in her life with men and friends,” CSULB senior journalism major Taylor Taguchi said. “I gave ‘truth’ away to my 16-year-old sister to always be true to herself as she grows.”

Not only do the keys serve a purpose to the wearer, but the keys also provide employment for the homeless in Los Angeles.

Crosby met a homeless couple she spotted on the streets and was inspired by them to collaborate with transitional homes to directly help the homeless community, which led to its partnership with PATH and United Way.

The woman from the homeless couple knew how to make necklaces, so Crosby hired her to make jewelry as part of the company’s new focus of giving back to the poor.

“I just wanted to give them some hope and encouragement and help them make some money,” Crosby said.

By making these keys, the couple gradually saved up enough money to buy their own apartment.

The Giving Keys products are now sold in over 40 stores in 32 states, with one store in Kuwait and London. Most Kitson stores in California carry a selection of the keys; they can also be found in the Miyamo gift store in Long Beach.

Go to www.thegivingkeys.com to purchase a key and help employ the homeless, then come back to the site to share your key’s story with The Giving Keys community.