You seem to enjoy helping me open the mail during fund-raising campaigns for Children's Hospital, so let's do it again:
With a check for $5 : "A widow's mite, again. My pension is very small, so I saved a few pennies in a jar, but then bought some food that I needed with that $5. I felt I had been selfish, so now I finally have another $5, this time for the children."
With a check for $358 : "There are three explanations for the size of this check. The second is that I haven't sent anybody a Christmas card in 10 years. The first and third reasons are too long to explain."
With a check for $10 : "I'm terribly sorry I didn't get this to you in time to help provide a happy Christmas for the children." Don't fret about it. Our project is designed to buy medical help for poor children, not toys for Christmas. A hospital with a built-in deficit needs help the year around.
With a check for $50 : "This check is given in honor of the D.C. trash collection people. They are great."
With a check for $100 : "Please don't put my name in the paper." I won't. Groups are named, but the names of individuals are never used in connection with gifts to Children's Hospital -- not the donors, not those honored in death by in memoriams, and not those honored in life for their good deeds. Acknowledgments mailed by the hospital make appropriate identifications.
With a check for $20 : "In your tabulations, you mention gifts from 'individuals.' Fowler states, 'The test for the right use of the word as opposed to the "colloquial vulgarism" is the question of whether the writer means or not to contrast the person he calls an individual with society, the family, or some body of persons.' I amd sure you have a copy of Fowler on your desk." Not on, but near. As I read Fowler, he advises against trying to achieve a humorous effect by calling a person an "individual." I use the word not for humorous effect but to make a distinction between groups and individuals. Most authorities say "individual" can properly be used when, as Copperud puts it, "single identity is being contrasted." He cites as an example of correct usuage, "Individuals and organizations have different rights."
With a check for $10 : "I have been following your column for 30 years. However, for the past four years I have been listening to it via the Washington ear rather than reading it, for I am legally blind now. You are among the fortunate." yes, and I know it.
With a check for $100 : "With heartfelt gratitude to the nurses and doctors at Children's Hospital whose skill spares children so much pain and fear."
With a check for $50 : "I go to the University of Maryland, work part time, and make just enough to live on 'and then sum' -- and the 'sum' is going to the children."
With a check for $75 plus a check for $100 : "The extra check celebrates the fact that the first check is not 'in memory of' anybody."
With a check for $25 : "I agree with most of your views, but not about who has the world's greatest grandchildren. I have eight I'll match against anybody's." Sir, are you questioning my status as an unbiased, impartial expert on the subject of grandchildren?
With a check for $20 : "Our contribution means more to us this year than ever before, for we now have our first grandchild and he is a Downs Syndrome baby."
With a check for $15 : "We send this in honor of the entire staff at the hospital. They were so wonderful to our 2-year-old friend when he was brought in paralyzed from the neck down. We owe them a great debt of gratitude."
With a check for $10 : "We love your columns on English usage, but following the last one, there was one in which the subject of the first paragraph was Redskins, the subject of the second was Redskin fans. Thereafter, to whom did the words 'disinterested' and 'uninterested' refer? Shame on you." I agree. Shame on me. Both references should have been to Redskin fans. I think my brain is begining to disintegrate.
With a check for $20 : "When you write about Children's Hospital, I think of the day I walked into Children's in Boston carrying my 4-week-old daughter -- weak, sickly, and weighing half a pound less than on the day she was born. We never expected to have her home with us again. Now she's 16, bright, energetic, and -- come to think of it -- never home with us much anyway."
These gifts make the shoebox $968 richer than it was yesterday. It now holds $127,620.80.