The entire government shut down for the holiday weekend, and presumably nobody in the Postal Service touched a piece of mail during that entire time. Yet on Monday morning there was a plump package of letters waiting for me, so let's plug in our electronic abacus and find out how our fund appeal for Children's Hospital is faring.

The first envelope that comes to hand contains a check for $8 on which there is the notation, "From HELP youth organization." The 10 Cub Scouts of Pack 1139, Den 3 (Vienna) scouted up odd jobs from which they earned all of the $15 they sent me for the children at the hospital. I think that's a mighty fine showing for boys who are only 8 or 9 years old.

The asterisk of the year turned up in the Data Systems Division of the National Weather Service. No card exchange there in 1976 brought in $19.76.

No card exchange in the General Accounting Department of American Security and Trust diverted $20 to the hospital. The agents in the Woodlawn branch of Mount Vernon Realty chipped in $24 to buy their boss a Christmas present - in the form of a contribution to Children's Hospital. The women of the Ft. Belvoir Duplicate Bridge Club sent in a check for $25. The staff of the Sherwood Regional Library (Fairfax County) collected $32.60 for the hospital.

Players at the Silver Spring Duplicate Bridge Club got up a $40 kitty for the children. And the record will show that $46 worth of holiday cards were not exchanged in the Congressional Record Index Office at GPO.

Several employees of the Justice Department participate in a cleanup program that involves, among other things, picking up aluminum cans and turning them in to be recycled (because that conserves about 95 per cent of the energy needed to make aluminum cans). With Reynolds Aluminum recently boosting the price it pays for aluminum scrap, the hospital's friends at Justice netted $48.45 from their latest collection of cans.

GSA's Heating Operation and Transmission Area stoked up $58.50 worth of fuel for our campaign. Personnel at the U.S. Army Electronics Command slipped an electronic asterisk into our abacus by not sending each other $62.50 worth of greeting cards. At the Transportation Association of America, no card exchange produced a $69 asterisk.

After the Class of 1976 was graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and most of its members moved off to new assignments, one man who remained behind was assigned to close out the group's accounts. After he had collected all the receivables and paid all the class bills, he found himself with a surplus of $87.50, which he immediately dispatched to me for the hospital with the built-in-deficit.

There are 13 exhibits in our Three-Digit Annex today - luckily. The first is from personnel at Systems Automation Corp. of Silver Spring. A year ago when they tried time, they raised $37. This year they came through with $106.

A check arrived from Takoma Park Junior High School in the amount of $113.37. The Field Maintenance Crew at Davison U.S. Army Airfield (Ft. Belvoir) sent in $116.50 followed by an asterisk. At the Chevy Chase Business and Professional Women's Club, there was no gift exchange so that a kitty of $132.50 could be diverted to provide medical help for needy children.

The fourth floor of Metro's headquarters building houses that agency's offices of Design and Contruction, Engineering, Architecture, Construction, Contract Administration and Program Control. If you had weighed the people in those departments just before and just after somebody passed the hat for Children's Hospital, you'd have found that they lost $150 in the process.

The no-cards asterisk at the Westinghouse Elevator Co. rose to new heights this year - $215.

At the Appalachian Regional Commission, $229 worth of cards were not exchanged. In the Science and Technology Division of the Institute for Defense Analyses, staffers really put their minds to not sending out cards and managed to not send out $255 worth. In the Planning Division of the Civil Works Office, Chief of Engineers, the no-cards saving was even higher, reaching $330, but there's a footnote to this asterisk. The no-cards collection received an assist from "Ye Olde Coffee Fund," and we may never know precisely how much money came from each source.

Policemen, on the other hand, seem to spend half their lives on paperwork and are rather precise with it, so I can give you a very accurate breakdown of where the money came from when my friends in CID contributed $408. The formal figures for the Criminal Investigations Division of the Metropolitan Police Department show that the Administrative Section didn't exchange $23 worth of intramural cards, for Robbery it was $74, Sex $56, Check & Fraud $47, Burglary & Pawn $74, Major Violators Unit $53, and of course good old Homicide, with its fierce determination to be No. 1 in all things, topped everybody with $81. If that doesn't add up to $408, arrest me.

There was a close race for top honors today, with all three contenders using our unpatented idea of not exchanging holiday cards with people at the office whom you see every day. At the U.S. International Trade Commission, the total almost doubled this year when it hit $614.35. In the Office of the Corporation Counsel, 39 of the hospital's friends also hit a new high by refraining from sending each other $630 worth of cards. And employees of the Charles E. Smith Companies also boosted their gift to an alltime high and took first place with a total of $675. A tip of the hat to all three of the finalists for the spirited manner in which they have supported these annual fund appeals. Our thesis here is a simple one: that no child should be turned away from a hospital because its parents are too poor to pay.

The abacus says 27 groups have contributed $4,531.03, and that 26 individuals have added $1,490 (one gave $400 and there were several others in the three-digit range). Today's total is therefore $6,021.03, and inasmuch as we finished the old year with $72,125.53, we begin the new one with $78,146.56.