We're beginning to pick up the pace. Donations for the second week of our annual campaign for Children's Hospital ran considerably ahead of last week's rate and last week's amounts. According to the adding machine, the numbers look like this:

Grand total to date: $16,546.38.

Total given this week: $9,683.07.

Donations from individuals to date: 468.

Donations from groups to date: 25.

These numbers are all the more impressive in a week that saw the federal government nearly shut down. It's very cheering to see that even when federal paychecks are threatened, donations to Children's Hospital are not. Both I and dozens of patients who might otherwise be unable to afford medical care at Children's are grateful.

But not so grateful that we are willing to let nongivers off the hook.

If you have not yet given, and have done so in past years, please take a moment today to write a check.

And if you have never given to Children's, you might want to consider this: no other institution gives world-class care to people from every sector of our community, regardless of race, creed, sex or ability to pay. And few other institutions rely so completely on private donations.

There's no "they" to take care of the tab at Children's. The "they" is you.

To contribute to the campaign:

Make checks or money orders payable to Children's Hospital and mail them to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 20071.