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United Way

breathe, love, dream - The Giving Keys

cause conscious, fashion, gifts, handmade, jewelry, necklaces, neckwear, pretty, upcyclededen tirlComment

It was late in the month November 2013. I had waited until the last minute (surprise!) to get my husband a 4th year anniversary gift. This was actually not so much about my procrastination issues, more the lack of inspiration for a unique, meaningful gift.

I don’t go for all the traditional elemental gifts: paper, brass, china...all that. I just wanted to get him something that had significance and expressed love.

As it was the eleventh hour, I had very little time before dinner reservations at 8:30. I landed at a tried and true, happening boutique off of Melrose that I frequent for gifts. I scanned the men’s section with keen eyes and landed on a case filled with colorful, sporty, rubber watches. They didn’t necessarily scream “significant”...but they were hip, manly and fun.

Out of the corner of my eye to my left, I spied some dangly well-worn chains swinging. At the bottom of each chain was an intriguing tattered key with an imprinted word on the front: HOPE, FAITH, FEARLESS, COURAGE, LOVE. I was instantly attracted. The placard on the wooden display read:

The Giving Keys

"When you get this key, you must give it away at some point to a person you feel needs the message on there. Then write us the story of why you gave it away."

The chains with keys were delicious looking, I loved the instructions, but the last sentence on the mission statement knocked me out:

We employ those who are looking to transition out of homelessness.


The Giving Keys was founded by Caitlin Crosby (an actress and singer/songwriter,) when she began wearing a NY hotel room key around her neck as decor. She had the idea of engraving old keys with inspirational words. She felt we were all like these keys...unique, scarred, flawed, and at risk of being discarded.

The idea was for the keys to be repurposed over and over. The message on the key is yours until it has served you, then you pay it forward to inspire someone else.

The charitable dimension came to be after Caitlin met Rob and Cera sitting under an umbrella on Hollywood Boulevard with a sign that read: Ugly, Broke & Hungry. Over dinner, Caitlin discovered that Cera made jewelry. Both Rob and Cera joined the team and started making Giving Keys the next day.

Later, the business partnered with the United Way and PATH (a reputable transitional home in Los Angeles,) to help to find workers to employ and help build The Giving Keys team. 

Since the beginning, The Giving Keys has employed 19 people experiencing homelessness, helping to provide opportunities for the team members to move into permanent housing.

The 'Pay It Forward' blog is really terrific!

So I found the one that was imprinted with LOVE. There were a few ancillary gifts that evening...the chain with the aged key was the one that made the impression I was hoping for. 

I’m Smitten with The Giving Keys. 

They are carried in over 500 stores in the US and internationally. Anthropologie, Fred Segal, Henri Bendel and Kitson to name a few local to Los Angeles.