Good news. Our Children's Hospital fund drive is not as far behind last year's pace as it was two weeks ago.
Bit by bit, we're closing the dollar gap. As we go through today's receipts, you might like to check your abacus against mine and see if we end up with the same totals.
The George Mason University Cross Country Team came in out of the cold long enough to send me $12.50. The Personnel Office of the National Endowment for the Arts contributed $15, and the woman who mailed the check to me sent along a note that said, "I was a patient at Children's Hospital myself more than 30 years ago." I'll have to introduce her to my sister, who is permanently 29.
The M.G. Car Club Ltd. sent me $17.06 and the explanation, "after having paid our bills and balanced our books, we found that we had a modest surplus." The Holly Park Early Childhood Center in Prince George's county found $20 in its treasury for the children.
A $25 gift marked "USDA-FGIS Testing Lab" will have to be credited by guesswork to the Department of Agriculture's Federal Grain Inspection Service. If I have guessed wrong, I will accept 10 lashes with a wet noodle in stoic silence.
The Ross Vienna Council, No. 2, Junior Order United American Mechanics sent in $35. St. Bernardine's Ladies Bowling League, Suitland, contributed $42. Another $42 arrived with the notation it was from the Adjutant General Officers Wives Bowling League.
The Administrative Staff at Answering Inc. of Bethesda answered the hospital's call for help with a $50 gift. Another $50 arrived because the four young women who provide clerical support to the Administrative Services Division of the Fairfax County Police Department told the men in blue what they wanted for Christmas: a check made out to Children's Hospital.
AFS-832 of the Federal Aviation Administration sent me $60 saved by not engaging in an intramural exchange of holiday cards. For the Network Computing Branch of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, this was the eighth consecutive year of not sending in-house cards, and the saving this year was $61. Employees of Seidel Chevrolet in Landover chipped in $62.15 in honor of a colleague, and in due course that person will receive from the hospital an appropriate notice of the honor.
You may have heard that money doesn't grow on trees, but a "money tree" at Remco Business Systems raisd $73 for the children during Christmas week. A ham radio operator who sold an article about ham radio to a magazine sent me the $90 paid for the article because he is what constitutional lawyers used to call a "strict constructionist." The holder of a ham license is forbidden to accept money for any activity related to amateur radio.
Thank you, Paine Webber, for the $100 that arrived from your Silver Spring office. Thank you, College Park office of RE/MAX Realtors, for diverting $100 to the children instead of sending each other greeting cards.
Personnel in the Procurement and Contracts Management Directorate at the Department of Energy signed a large and beautiful homemade card and sent me the $10( they would other-wise have spent on individual cards and postage. No card exchange in Prudential's Bethesda office netted the children $118.
At SIMCON Inc., the no-card plan was good for $222. In the Systems Development Division of USAMSSA, it produced $266. If USAMSSA stumps you, it stands for U.S. Army Management Systems Support Agency.
In Buildings 10 and 11 of the Vitro Labs Division of Sutomation Industries, the no-cards scheme was good for $306 this year -- an increase of 382 percent over last year's result. The environmental consultants in the local office of Dames & Moore didn't send each other $320 worth of cards. The Systems Programming Division at IRS tried the no-cards idea for the very first time this year and reported in with $327 worth of medical help for a needy child. The Division of Labor-Management Laws in the Office of the Solicitor of the Labor Department didn't exchange $378 worth of in-house cards. And employees of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States diverted $398 worth of card money to the kids.
By my count, these 26 groups gave the hospital $3,296.71, and 4j anonymous individuals added $1,630 to make today's total $4,926.71. Having started the day with $86,851.30, the shoebox now holds $91,778.01. On Jan. 5, 1978 it held $96,385.60. We are now "only" $4,607.59 behind last year's campaingn.