Featured Friend of DailyFeats: The Giving Keys
This week our featured friend is Caitlin Crosby of The Giving Keys, a charity that sells custom-made key necklaces engraved with empowering words. All proceeds go toward helping the homeless people that work there afford start new lives off the streets. And the matching featured feat? !payitforward, of course! I spoke with Caitlin last week. Here’s her story…
Singer/actress Caitlin Crosby had been wearing a New York City hotel room key around her neck on a chain for a while when she happened to be standing in line at a locksmith shop and saw him engraving numbers onto keys.
"Do you by any chance have letters?" She asked him, thinking it’d be cool to have the word "LOVE" engraved on her key necklace. He did - and so the first giving key was born.
Caitlin and one of her key necklackes from The Giving Keys Facebook page
The Giving Keys evolved from being just a crafty, unique piece of jewelry that Caitlin wore in her everyday life, to the pay-it-forward model it now is. She gave away that first key to a friend for her birthday. Why? Caitlin said, ”When you have that gut feeling that you know it’s going to make that person’s day and they need it for some reason, it’s gonna mean something to them. It’s about having the mentality of not having our hands holding tight to our material possessions,” Caitlin told me.
Today, The Giving Keys has morphed into a charity aimed at helping young homeless people get off the street and make money doing rewarding work. Awesome, right? It began with Rob and Sera, a couple whom Caitlin met in LA and decided to take to dinner (see more about this part of the journey in Caitlin’s video here). They’re now gainfully employed, and Rob is starting community college this month.
The charity employs nine people at present, and they spend their days carefully engraving words like “HOPE”, “FAITH”, “DREAM” on old, reused keys. And business is good: the necklaces are sold in many specialty boutiques, as well as online. Caitlin told me although they’ve been overwhelmed by requests, they are excited because, as she said, “We want to give the people as much work as possible so they make as much money as possible.”
This model of empowerment is working, and not just in the financial sense. Caitlin stressed that The Giving Keys is special and unique because it truly brings everyone together. From the person giving a special key to a loved one who seems to need it, to those requesting certain words for their key, to finally, the ones engraving the words, the workers themselves: ”People all around the world are in need of these things, these words, in their lives. The people making these feel like, Wow, we all have the same emotions, everyone starves for it,” Caitlin said. “It’s interesting that the people engraving the keys are having to look at these words all day long, having to pound out the word DREAM or HOPE or FAITH. Whatever they’re going through, they can’t help but be encouraged and know they’re not alone.”
The most popular “key”word? Strength. Caitlin thinks it’s because “the obstacles that we’re all faced with can weaken us, and a lot of people may feel they need a reminder”. Scroll through the stories on The Giving Keys website, where anyone who has bought a key or given their key to someone is invited to post: you’ll see echoes of this, that the key - this one, small thing - can serve as a talisman for someone who needs a little bit of something to keep them going.
A custom-ordered key from a mother to her daughter who was going through hard times (from Facebook)
Like we always say: small positive actions lead to big change, and The Giving Keys is just another wonderful example of that. Thanks, Caitlin, for sharing your story with DailyFeats!
What would your word be? Let us know on Twitter with the hashtag #givingkeys @dailyfeats.