Our youth, our future: Karen and Kelsey Riley

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FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WDTV) - 11 years ago on December second, twin girls, Karen and Kelsey Riley, were born three months premature.

The girls, now 11, hold their newborn pictures.

"They were both very ill when they were born; they weighed two pounds a piece," said their mom, Tracy Young.

The girls spent several months in the NICU at WVU Medicine Children's.

"There's nothing worse than coming home from the hospital alone, after you've been pregnant," said Young, fighting back tears.

While they were in the hospital, the girls received surprise donations: new toys, blankets, and baby clothes.

The gifts were a bright spot during a dark time.

"It just let you know that somebody out there cared," Young said.

In Feburary, baby Karen was able to go home. Kelsey followed her in April.

"They are doing wonderfully today," said Young.

On their sixth birthday, the girls wanted a way to give back. So, they started 'Blanket Blessings': each year on their birthday, the girls collect items to donate to premature babies in the NICU they once stayed in.

"People gave a lot to us, especially when we were young, so I think it's a good thing that we give back," Karen said.

This year, their goal is 350 blankets or other baby items.

"The people that work there are really happy when we bring the blankets," said Kelsey.

These once tiny girls haven't let a tough start in life stop them from making a big difference.

"Giving back can do so much more than you think," said Karen.

"I'm just so proud to be their mom," said Young.

If you'd like to donate to Blanket Blessings, donations (blankets, clothes, diapers, bottles, toys, etc.) can be dropped off at:

• This-n-That, 57 Cory Rd, Fairmont, WV 26554. 304-366-1115

• Climate Control Storage Plus, 110 Vankirk Dr, Fairmont, WV 26554. 304-534-3333