Our annual fund-raising campaign on behalf of Children's Hospital feels a little like an airplane flight after the first five minutes. The captain has retracted the wheels, the fasten-seat-belt sign has been turned off, and we're getting ready for a nice, smooth cruise.

There has been nary a bump so far. We've just finished the second week of the eight-week campaign, and all the numbers are records up to this point. Here they are:

Grand total to date: $51,853.93.

Total given this week: $19,829.94.

Individual donors to date: 795.

Group donors to date: 111.

Zeroing in on that top line for a second . . . .

Last year, after the first two weeks of the campaign, we had collected $36,062.02. That means we are doing nearly 50 percent better this year than last -- at least so far.

But airplane flights have a way of running into turbulence -- and fund-raising drives have a way of petering out when you least want them to.

This is a sterling beginning, to be sure. But we need to keep up the pace. Which is where you come in.

As you prepare to bestow largesse on your family and friends for the holidays, please remember that dozens of sick kids will be spending those same holidays at Children's Hospital. They will be too sick to go home, and in many cases their families will be too poor to pay for the medical care the kids are receiving.

It's our job -- those of us who have a little something to spare -- to make medical care available for the children who need it, yet whose families can't afford it. Can any of us really say no to a kid who needs help? I know I can't -- and I know that 795 people and 111 groups agree with me so far.

Let's swell those totals, and swell the free care fund at Children's, as this community has been doing for four decades. Here's how: 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, Washington, D.C., 20071.

These groups have weighed in with contributions in recent days:

The District Wholesale Drug Corp. ($200 from the telephone sales, customer service and government sales departments, and $150 from vice president Richard H. Levin).

The staff of Talbots on Massachusetts Avenue NW ($50).

Great Falls Grange No. 738 ($10).

The Arlington Women's Club Duplicate Bridge Club ($48 from a charity club championship, and thanks, as always, to Pat Medding).

The Quiet Woman of Calverton, Va. ($25).

The Civil Service Retirees Luncheon Group ($25, and thanks to head honcho John Beckman).

Silver Spring Memorial Auxiliary to Post No. 2562 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars ($100).

Rinaldi's Senior Citizens' Mixed Bowling League, which rolls at Rinaldi Riverdale Bowl ($52).

The Tuesday Keglers' Bowling League, which rolls on guess-which-day in Falls Church ($50).

The Social Committee at Wakefield Forest Elementary School in Fairfax ($170).

The employes of the National School Boards Association in Alexandria ($150).

And the Hydrodynamics Group at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab ($50 from the coffee fund).

Heaps of thanks to every one of you.