The letters that accompany checks for Children's Hospital are a varied lot. The emotions that run through them range from hope to despair, from sadness to happiness, from tragic frustration to ecstatic fulfillment. Let me share a few samples with you:
With a check for $10 - "I was hospitalized 11 years ago for a brain aneurysm during which I lost my hearing and was left partially paralyzed. Since that time I have graduated from Gallaudet College. The enclosed check isn't much, but I hope it can be used to help a child with a hearing disorder."
About 20 letters later in today's mail was a check for $25 and a note that said: "It was finally at Children's Hospital that out 16-month-old grandson was fitted with ear tubes that allowed sufficient relief from repeated infections for his allergists to begin tests and desensitization treatments that have given him the opportunity to enjoy growing up. May the shoebox overflow this year."
With a check for $10 - "In the past, I have several times sent checks to Children's Hospital as memorials to the dead. This time it's great to send one as a 'memorial' to somebody who lived: you." That shook me a little.
With a check for $10 - "When my husband moved out last month, he left a pile of change in his dresser drawer. I'm rounding it out and sending it on to you. May some good come of this mess." That one shook me even more. But we have work to do.
Today is the final day for mailing contributions that will count in our current campaign for Children's Hospital. If your check isn't in yet, please mail it today.
From the mail already in we learn that two 11-year-old Fairfax Christmas carolers turned in $5.35. Collection boxes near the cash register at the Springfield (Va.) Pharmacy yielded $10.57. A $15 check from Chevy Chase was earmarked, "Snow-shoveling money earned by my daughters."
The Garrett Park Carolers weighed in with $20. "In this transient area, I find myself treasurer of two defunct neighborhood organizations with asset of $20.50," said a note accompanying a check in that amount.
The Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors Ice Cream Store on Lee Highway in Fairfax puts 5 cnets into its hospital kitty every time a customer orders a birthday cake decorated with a butter-cream Snoopy. In 1977 the store made 496 Snoopys, so it has now sent me a check for $25.
The coffee jar at the Community Action Agency of Fairfax County was good for $50. The people who work for George's, the appliance stores, also sent $50 through an organization the official name of which is "George's Employees Association," and woe to the copy editor who changes that spelling. A father promised to double anything his young children might give to the hospital. One child gave $5, so the other did, too. The father therefore had to give $20, which the mother promptly matched, and that gave us out third $50 contributions of the day.
Small change from students at Carmody Hills Elementary School in Seat Pleasant, with a bit of help from the Student Council treasury, netted $70. No Christmas card exchange in the Office of Education's Division of International Education was also good for $70. "The Secret Santas" of the English Department of Gallaudet's Model Secondary School for the Deaf chipped in $85.50.
Members of the Kiwanis Club of Falls Church rounded up $117 worth of medical help for a needy child. Checks totaling $60 arrived with the explanation they were "from some National Environmental Satellite Service employees." They, too, seem unimpressed with this newspaper's decision to end the world with one e.
For the seventh consecutive year, there was no in-house holiday card exchange at the Data Systems Application Division of the Agricultural Research Service. This year the decision diverted $300 to the children.
"The most successful disco ever held at West Springfield (Va.) High School" made so much money that the one-third allotted to Children's Hospital came to $550. Gracious!
Top honors for the day go to the 125 people at the George Hyman Construction Co. who didn't send each other holiday cards. They put together a gift of $3,030 that was substantially higher than the $2,550 they gave last year.
Out abacus says these 17 groups have contributed $4,628.92 to the hospital and 63 anonymous individuals have added $1,606.76 to bring today's total to a hefty $6,235.68. We began the day with $180,735.89, so the shoebox now holds $186,971.57. Now! Do you suppose we could reach $200,000?