OTOE – When Niki Scholting turned the key at the Village of Otoe’s community center, which had been an elementary school 20 years ago, she was hoping to give the town’s kids a reason to get away from screens and devices. She was in for a surprise.

Four moms and a dozen kids showed up that first day, but more came the next week and then more.
Kids and parents from surrounding communities joined  in to deliver Valentine’s Day cards to nursing home residents seven miles away, to organize a food pantry drive, and make bird houses and squirrel feeders for the town.


Angela Schlitz: “It started as word of mouth. It’s really been the kids going to school and telling their friends about it.”

The kids cleaned up litter and planted flowers at the community building in April and there were 30 kids there to deliver May baskets. Organizers say the experience  has been refreshing.

Schlitz: “I think the kids are learning that and starting to appreciate … it’s hard at a young age to know and learn that value in some of your volunteering and what impact that it can make, but there are so many kids who have taken pride in the work they have done around town. We see people as we’re out doing these missions and making an impact and they are always waving and smiling.”


Otoe has no school, no grocery store, nowhere for its 60 households to get gasoline, but now it has kid power.

Schlitz: “There really is no surrounding area nearby that has anything like this. None of the other small towns or villages around here have a kids club. There’s no girls or boys club or Y or anything like that. It has been huge to make a difference to get those kids involved.”

Scholting said she didn’t know what to expect when she opened the doors this December, but now wonders if Otoe might be the smallest town in America with a kids club.