It was noted here at the end of 1977 that our Children's Hospital campaign was about a thousand dollars ahead of the same date in 1976. "That's like holding a 3-point lead with 58 minutes left to play," I commented.

But we're starting the fourth quarter now, and the clock is running. After we complete today's tally, we'll compare it to the $112,122.75 we recorded on this date in 1977.

We begin today's report by noting that the Credit and Collection Departments of the Hechinger Co. didn't exchange $19.56 worth of holiday cards among themselves, and instead sent me a check for that amount for Children's Hospital. From Vienna, Va., came a check for $25.10 that bore the notation, "Crowell Road Civic Association Legal Fund." No card exchange among the staff at Summit Research Corp. (Gaithersburg) brought in $29. Employees of Sachs, Greenebaum & Taylor chipped in $41.75.

A collection in the Management Evaluation Branch, U.S. Office of Education, produced $73. Employees of Fairway Electronics in Kensington sent me $75. No card exchange in the Washington Procurement Office of the Army's Electronics Command diverted $85 to the children.

"The pharmacists and the pharmassistants at the Retired Persons Pharmacy (on 24th Street NW) stopped filling prescriptions long enough to ante up $90 for your hospital." Thanks, pharmpersons.

An even $100 arrived from the J. F. Thomas Co. at Baileys Crossroads. Another $100 was generated by the decision not to exchange intramural cards among employees of the Columbia Management Division of the Howard Research and Development Corp.

"The people of the Field Maintenance Division of Davison Army Airfield at Ft. Belvoir" also decided not to exchange cards among themselves, and that added $125 to our coffers.

The hospital's PALS (Physics & Astronomy Ladies Social) at the University of Maryland came through with $129.85. The Operations Support Computing Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center stopped swapping in-house cards eons ago; its savings this year came to $138.

Because Children's Hospital serves the entire metropolitan area and employees of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments think in terms of area-wide problems and solutions, COG people are enthusiastic supporters of the hospital. Their no-cards plan brought in $145.06 this year.

The Employees Club of the Alexandria Laboratories of Teledyne Geotech collected $150 for the children. A batch of checks collected in a no-cards pact in the Washington Branch Office of Dames & Moore was accompanied by a note that said, "My count shows a total of $227.05. I hope your cordless abacus shows the same amount. Incidentally, do you use a Chinese or Japanese abacus? Do you know which can be operated more rapidly?"

Sorry, all I know about abacuses is that mine was imported from a country called Texas and carries a TI brand on it.

Employees of the Washington Gas Light Co. refrained from sending each other $230 worth of holiday cards. The Government Systems Division of Western Union Telegraph Co. didn't have to use its satellite to flash word to me from McLean that its collection for the children this year came to $318.

In every previous year of their participation in these annual campaigns, the men and women in the Rockville Branch of the Paul H. Werres Co. have topped their previous totals, and this year was no exception. Their newest high is $342. And if it hadn't been for the Friendly Skies of United, the Amity Club of Washington would have garnered top honors for today with its lovely check for $500.

However, just before I began writing these lines, United Airlines people checked in -- and it was no contest. From Dulles, United's Dispatch, Maintenance, Ramp, Stores, Cabin Service, Crew Desk, Ticket Counter and Operations units teamed up with Washington's Flight Attendants, Flight Office, Dispatch, Aircraft Maintenance, Auto Shop and Building & Maintenance to rack up a gift of $1,206. A Dispatch employee who missed the office collection sent in $10 separately. And the United Airlines Foundation added $350 for good measure to bring the united United gift to $1,566.

So 21 groups gave $4,509.37, and 30 individuals added $1,250.06 to bring today's total to $5,759.43. We began the day with $108,804.80, so we now have $114,564.23 in the shoebox, or 2 per cent more than last year. We're still three points ahead, but now there are only 15 minutes left on the clock.