We almost made it look easy.

Sometime around the first of the week, our Children's Hospital fund-raising campaign chugged past last year's final nine-week total of $217,086.01. And it went on chugging from there. By the end of the week, we had surged past $231,230.13 and set a new record for a single-year campaign.

As you can tell from a quick glance at the figures below, we have gone well past a quarter of a million dollars -- and we still have next week to go.

So it's a time for toasting. Here are the eight-week totals to which we hoist a glass:

Grand total to date: $276,475.27.

Total given this week: $65,541.84.

Gifts from individuals to date: 5,643.

Donations from groups to date: 488.

For me, such a strong outpouring of donations has produced an equally strong outpouring of gratitude--spiced with a dash of worry.

The reason for the gratitude is obvious. Literally, there has never been as generous a group of readers as you in all the 35 years that The Washington Post has raised money for Children's Hospital in this space.

It's difficult to say thanks as effusively as I want without sounding like a drugstore greeting card. So let's just leave it at this:

You're beautiful, one and all.

Why the worry? Because you might get the idea that our drive doesn't need any more contributions.

Perish the thought. I know in my bones that there are stragglers and procrastinators out there. I know that there are grinches who meant to send a check around Christmas. I know that there are revelers who meant to do the same around New Year's. You say you forgot? OK--for now.

But the "for now" ends this week, along with our campaign. Forgetfulness will still be met with forgiveness--but only if you get down to brass tacks and make out your check now.

Let us repeat one last time: every penny you give pays medical bills for children whose families otherwise could not afford to give their youngsters needed care. In the most basic way, your contributions give kids a chance. You'll never give a buck for a better purpose than that.

To contribute to the campaign:

Make a check or money order payable to Children's Hospital and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071.