Parents aren't the only people who respond sympathetically to the needs of children.
Take, for example, this letter from a student at the University of Wisconsin:
"The enclosed check for $15.20 is double the number of pennies I've saved this year (the actual number of pennies seemed a bit meager) for your Children's Hospital drive. Since I'm not sure where my next semester's tuition is coming from, I feel quite extravagant sending this, which is a nice feeling for a change.
"Also, it helps assuage my home-sickness for D.C. Madison may be the Athens of the Midwest, but give me the District any day."
It's a true blue District Liner who pines for Our Town and then does something about it by remembering the children.
Another interesting letter accompanied a check given in memory of a family pet that helped a young convalescent over some rough periods:
"This check is to be sent to Children's Hospital in memory of a much loved adopted member of our family. Phoebe was not a child. She was a black cat who died of cancer last year. Just a black kitten who helped a little boy who was apartment-bound while recuperating from rheumatic fever.
"She became (as he termed it) his 'Kitten Sister' who lived with us for fourteen and a half years, loving us and sharing all our hopes, blessings and sadness.
"So the check for $14.50 is a dollar for each year that she brightened our lives. I wish I had more to give. If I had a dollar for each of our happy memories of her, you would reap thousands of dollars for 'the hospital with the built-in-defict,' for we cherish thousands of happy thoughts of one large bundle of fur."
For the first few days of this year's fund campaign, there was hardly a gurgle in the mail pipeline. I'm relieved to be able to report that things look a little brighter today.
This morning I received nearly three dozen letters that contained checks, and I hope that's the start of even bigger and better things.
Most of those checks were from individuals, but four were from groups.
The Foreign Demographic Analysis Division of the Census Bureau sent a check for $22, "representing money that would have been spent on intramural Christmas cards."
The Technical Support Division of the First Service Company sent $25 in memory of a colleague who died recently. "She loved children and always held their well-being above her own, and would have preferred this to flowers for herself."
Three checks totalling $50 were forwarded as a group donation from the Comptroller General of the United States. The letter ended "Thank YOU." Not me, friends. I just write about the donations. You contributors are the ones to be thanked.
Today's largest group gift came from the employees of Val-Pak Northern Prince George's County, who sent me $150 for the children. A tip of the hat to them.
Among the 31 letters and checks from individuals came several that noted Bill's delegation of responsibility for the Children's Hospital fund drive to me. We're both happy to report that reader reaction has been positive. Many of you have commented on the change, and this letter really captured the essence of the responses.
"For many years at Christmas time I have been torn between my regard for the needs of Children's Hospital and the absence of the usual type of coverage in my favorite column. Your decision to 'go both ways' is the greatest."
Well, kind sir, it's my hope that you and all other District Liners will now have two favorite columns during the two months we take dead aim at the "built-in deficit." Thanks for the support.
You may be interested in a dollar breakdown of the individual donations that arrived for the children. On the low end of the spectrum was a check for $3.50. Four District Liners sent $5 each. The most popular contribution, $10, occurred eight times.
Two checks for $15 got through the pipeline, and checks for $14.50 and $15.20 have already been mentioned. Five letters contained $25 each and three contained $50 each.
On the high end, five checks for $100 represented very generous personal contributions. A check for $150 garnered top honors in the individual category.
Those 31 checks from individuals totaled $1,088.20, and the total for the four groups was $247. My cordless abacus, if Bill has properly instructed me, should yield a total for today of $1,335.20.
Inasmuch as the old shoebox contained $2,355.24 when I last checked, today's donations move our running total to $3,690.44. That's not much, but it's $3,690.44 more than we had last week. Now let's keep on rolling. My mailing address is Scott Chase, c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th st. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.