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Chessplayers checkmate former teacher with fundraiser

Event benefits House of Bread ministry


by: TIMES PHOTO:JAIME VALDEZ - Devon Gregory watches as Egan Wong ponders his next move during a chess tournament at the Bethlehem-House of Bread open house. by: TIMES PHOTO:JAIME VALDEZ - Kris Field-Eaton was taken aback when she arrived at Bethlehem-House of Bread and saw a sign with her name on it at the entrance at the former Metzger United Methodist Church. A TAG coordinator in the Sherwood School District for years, Field-Eaton helped start chess clubs in Sherwood before becoming head of a food pantry and community garden at Bethlehem: House of Bread in Metzger.For years, the name Kris Field-Eaton has been synonymous with one thing: Chess.

The former Sherwood School District teacher spent years growing the district’s chess program, and when she began working at Bethlehem: House of Bread a few months ago, her former students and volunteers decided to bring chess to her.

On Monday, 94 students from across the area, and as far away as Scio came to the compete in the first-ever Kris Field-Eaton Benefit Chess Tournament.

Located inside the former Metzger Methodist Church, House of Bread is a community center, which launched this year.

This summer, Field-Eaton began working on transforming the church into a functioning community garden and is hard at work getting a new food pantry off the ground.

The tournament was a fundraiser for House of Bread, which plans to launch a food pantry later this month, said Betsy Findtner, but it was also a way to say thanks to a woman who worked for years to bring chess to students across Sherwood.

Field-Eaton worked for years to grow chess programs in each of the district’s schools, she said.

“She won’t let us thank her directly,” Findtner said. “This way we can thank her and honor her and contribute to something that she has spent hundreds of hours preparing.”

The Sherwood Chess program has grown exponentially. The chess club at Middleton Elementary School had about 15 players when it began, Findtner said. This year, the school has more than 120 players.

“It’s cool to play chess in Sherwood,” she said.

“We always wanted to do something for her, but she hates being the center of attention,” said Findtner, who coaches the chess club at Middleton Elementary. “(House of Bread) was something she has really poured herself into, and we thought, ‘Here we go, we can benefit something she enjoys, and the focus is on this.’”

The chess match charged an admission fee to play, and students each brought a can of food to donate to the food bank.

“It was a surprise,” said Field-Eaton, looking over a crowd of students. “My heart couldn’t be fuller.”

Field-Eaton’s sons played chess when they were in school, and their love of the game inspired her to share the game with others, she said.

“I was so excited about the fun they were having, and the benefits they got from it I thought, ‘My students needed that,’” she said.

Chess is more than just a game, Field-Eaton said.

“It’s a lifelong love,” she said. “It’s stimulating, and it’s really fun. People just love it.”

For the uninitiated, the quiet game might not seen as exciting as a sporting event, but Field-Eaton said it can be just as nail-biting.

“My boys all played sports, but my heart raced fastest when they were playing in the last game of a chess match,” she said. “It’s quiet and intense, and you feel like you’re going to have a heart attack.”

“We could have had more, but we didn’t have enough space,” Harper said.

Final numbers haven’t been tabulated, but Findtner and Harper said the tournament brought in at least $1,700 for the pantry, and collected 425 pounds of food, which are already on the pantry’s shelves.

“It made so much sense to have it right here,” Findtner said. “The kids can walk into the pantry and see where that food and money is going.”

Beginning the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the food pantry will begin handing out food to those in need.

“There aren’t too many food pantries that are open on Sundays,” Field-Eaton said.

Tigard’s biggest food bank, St. Vincent de Paul food bank at St. Anthony Catholic Church is open six days a week, but is closed on Sundays.

Field-Eaton said she expects the pantry to start off small.

“I’m really interested in some of the classes that will grow out of it,” she said. “We will be holding cooking and food events, too.”

Plans are already in the works for next year’s tournament.

“It’s annual now, baby,” Findtner said.




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