Heaven only knows how people manage to sing carols outdoors on nights that are cold enough to freeze a joyous tra-la-la to the singer's bridgework. But sing they do, and most of them are warmly welcomed by those they serenade.

From today's mail we learn that the warm welcome in five instances took the form of gifts to Children's Hospital. Total caroling net for the day was a cherry $181.21, tra-la-la.

"The Irvington Avenue Gang" did its caroling in Bethesda and brought back $25.52. In Alexandria, a new vocal group. "The Thomas Jefferson High and Weyanoke Elementary Carolers," racked up $27.15 at the box office.

Eighth Graders from the National Cathedral School worked the Somerset area for $35. A youth group from Blessed Sacrament sang sweetly enough to earn $43.54. And young people from the Dumfries-Triangle area who sang in Prince William Estates earned $50. Total: $181.21.

The Permits Processing Section of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission chipped in a nonmusical $25 for the hospital. The Metropolitan Police Department's Court Liaison Branch got up a pool of $28.75. "We passed the hat at a Planned Parenthood Christmas gathering" and the hat came back with $33 in it.

Employees in the McLean office of Loeb Rhodes & Co. wished each other a happy holiday in person instead of exchanging greeting cards. The $45 they saved was sent to me for Children's Hospital.

The Office of the Budget in the Commerce Department's Domestic and International Business Administration did $55 worth of business with me. Employees of Glassman-LeReche & Associates refrained from sending each other $64 worth of Christmas cards. As they have been doing for more years than I can remember, the staff of the Indexing Division at the National Geographic Society took up a collection for the children and it come to $65.

Judges and staff personnel of the D.C. Court of Appeals didn't send each other $105 worth of holiday cards. Thirty members of the Communications Maintenance Branch of the Metropolitan Police Department fined themselves $107 for being well and happy when there are little children who aren't.

The Cavalier C.B. Club of Calvert County scrapped its Christmas party to divert $115 to the hospital. The Accounting Division at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters raffled off some hams and cookies and emerged with a profit of $115.89 for the children.

In the Information Systems and Services Division of the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration, it was decided that it makes much more sense to provide $117.14 worth of medical help for a needy child than it does to conduct an intramural exchange of greeting cards.

No card exchange in the Computer Systems Engineering Division at the Bureau of Standards netted $123. The very same idea produced $126 in another Commerce Department unit, the Bureau of Economic Analysis. At Atlantic Auto Service in Oxon Hill, it was this year, and $140 was thereby chipped off the deficit at the hospital.

Remember HELP (Help for Exceptional Little People)? The Lions Club gave a Christmas party for Help Club children, so Help parents expressed their thanks by sending me $147 for other childern who need help. Employees of Lyon, Conklin & Co. somehow survived the holiday season without sending each other $150 worth of greeting cards. And the Commerce Department is back with still more help for us, this time $189.30 from the Bureau of International Economic Policy and Research.

The Army banged through with $350 from the Planning Division, Civil Works, Office of the Chief of Engineers - the sixth straight year we've had their help. But a group that tried the no-cards idea for the very first time almost won top honors for the day. The management at Research, Inc., of Arlington was so pleased that it matched its employees' gifts and raised their total to a thumping $612.

On an ordinary day, $612 might have won all the marbles, but this was no ordinary day, It was the day the 52 employees of the Charles E. Smith Building Corp. reported in. They raised $1,100 for the children!

So 26 groups tallied $3,994.29 and 49 individuals added $1,990.50 to bring today's total to $5,984.79.We started the day with $73,444-24 and we end the year $79,429.03. I hope the new year will be good to you, and to all our hospitalized children.