"I am sorry this is so small," said a note that accompanied a $15 check. "Next year may be better."

Next year is always better, my friend, and please don't think of your contribution to Children's Hospital al "small." Consider the impact of even smaller checks -- $10 ones. There have been 343 of them so far, worth $3,430. That's enought to save a child's life, even at today's prices.

So don't think of your gift as being "only" $15. You are one of many, united in a common cause, and I wish we had 10,000 more just like you.

Today's tally begins with carolers. The St. Nicholas Teen Club of Laurel was rewarded with $21.06. "On Dec. 22, eight high-spirited Bowie girls went caroling for Children's Hospital and came back with $25.07." And you can publish it in the Federal Register that the most productive warblers on today's list were the Quesada Street Carolers, who in their sixth year of singing for somebody's supper at Children's Hospital earned $30.

Speaking of singing, the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America Inc. will be singing in Constitution Hall for the benefit of Children's Hospital tomorrow night, and I plan to be there with the World's Greatest Grandchildren. The occasion? The District Line column ends its 32nd year today and hopes to begin its 33rd tomorrow.

Today's contributions from groups of nonsingers included $10 from the Prince George's County 70001 Program at Camp Springs and another $10 from the Immediate Office of the Commissioner Branch, Grant and Procurement Management Division, U.S. Office of Education. How would you like to say all that when you answer the phone 50 times a day?

Cheverly Unit 108 of the American Legion Auxiliary sent me $25 for the children. Another $25 was contributed by employees of the Maintenance Management Division of the Directorate for National Maintenance Point, in memory of the wife of a colleague. In the Management Resources & Analysis Branch of the Collection Division of IRS, $35.25 worth of intramural holiday cards were not exchanged.

The plumbers at R.L. Voight & Son chipped in $37 and called it "a drip in the bucket." After saying so much about the "small" $15 check, I will spare you a repetition of the same comment.

A $40 check in today's mail "represents pennies for all the tricks that weren't made by members of the Mosby Woods Bridge Club." The CLA Communications Center sent a message that said, " $78." It's probably a code of some kind.

The Computer Systems Engineering Division at the National Bureau of Standards measured its gift with precision: 90.5 dollars. Greenbelt Post 136 of the American Legion preferred the rounded flowing lines of $100.

The Coffee Fund on the second floor at the National Society of Professional Engineers sells coffee for 15 cents a cup, and it made a profit of $108.05 for Children's Hospital at that price. Do you hear me, Duke?

This year's checks from employees of the Government Systems Division at Infodata Systems Inc. added up to $140. No holiday card exchange among the men and women at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments netted the children $147.78. And when Western Union's employees didn't exchange cards for the 12th consecutive year, they raised $256 for the hsopital (and brought their 12-year total to $3,920.50).

The staff of the House Appropriations Committee didn't exchange cards again this year and thereby diverted $327 to medical aid for a needy child. It was the sixth no-card year for "those in the National Center for Antibiotic Analysis and friends in other units of Pharmaceutical Research and Testing," and this year's saving there came to $347.50.

At the Federal Aviation Administration, a hotbed of Children's Hospital supporters, it was the 15th straight year of no card exchange within the Office of Airports Programs, and that unit's checks added up to a lovely $402. An even thicker stack, worth $591.06, arrived from the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Top honors today were won by as generous a group of hard-nosed lawyers as I have ever encountered -- the people in the D.C. Government's Office of the Corporation Counsel. The abacus says their gifts came to $825.50.

So 22 groups gave $3,671.77 and 56 individuals added $1,814 to bring today's total to $5,485.77 and our total to date to $119,784.13. On Monday, the Navy unlimbers its big guns.