The married woman with whom I've been living couldn't wait for Monday's newspaper to be printed. As soon as I came home from work, she asked, "How much did your cordless abacus record for the first day of the Children's Hospital campaign?"

"A smidgen over $3,000," I told her. She greeted the news gloomily.

"The way hospital costs run these days," she said, "You have enough to heal one sprained ankle."

An exaggeration, to be sure, but it made its point. Let's see what today's mail holds.

For openers, American Security Bank's C Street Staff sent me $14 for the children. A check for $20 arrived with the notation it was from "The Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.) Four-Square Club" which has in recent years helped to "elevate an arcane elementary-school playground game into a sport of dexterity and skill -- a game that is highly competitive yet has no winners, no losers, no score and no hard feelings between competitors."

I don't know what Four-Square is, but I wish I did. At this point is the pro football season, I seem to develop a hankering for some softnosed competition for a change.

The Women's Social Club of Deale, Md., dipped into its treasury to send me $25 for the hospital. The Silver Spring Memorial Auxiliary to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2562 voted a similar amount for the children. And a third $25 check materialized when it was decided that there would be no intramural exchange of holiday cards among members of the Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW's Department of the District of Columbia.

On a letterhead that bears the legend "Arlington County School Board Employees' Supplemental Retirement System" comes the happy news that enclosed is a check for $30 from "employees" of Tolley International Corp. who work for the county. While my copy editors try to figure our what to do with an official name that doesn't conform to their quaint "employe" spelling, let me hasten to tell you that another $30 arrived from the coffee pot maintained for customers and employees of Kay Furniture in Arlington.

This latter "employee" spelling can be charged against me, personally. You won't need the handcuffs, officer; I'll go quietly.

Members of the staff of the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico sent me $43 for Children's Hospital and sent along a warm letter praising the "excellent facilities and care offered there." Wheaton Post 268 of the American Legion weighed in with $50 for the hospital with the built-in deficit. In the days ahead, note how frequently the Legion and VFW are mentioned.

Another $50 was diverted to the children by the Columbia Pike Thrift Shop, which is run by Trinity Episcopal Church. And a third $50 contribution arrived from Central Lodge No. 1, Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Part B Systems Branch, Medicare Bureau, HCFA, held a Dutch treat office party and had $52 left after all the bills were paid. What better way to wipe out a surplus than to ship it off to help a needy child get medical attention?

Three checks identified as being from "General Accounting Office Executives Wives" added up to $55 without help from the abacus. "Avon District 646 -- The Go-Getters" chipped in $56.50 and served to remind me -- again -- how indefatigable women are in raising money for charity. Most non-profit organizations would be in dire straits without female support.

The E Club at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, taking note of the diminishing purchasing power of the Yankee dollar, raised its annual contribution from $100 to $150. My congratulations to the economics teachers at Episcopal.

The Examination Division of the Office of International Operations at IRS maintains a coffee fund that annually turns over its profits to Children's Hospital. This year, somebody decided the coffee profits were too small and suggested that everybody chip in "a little bit extra." The little bits added up to $500. And that was our top contribution for the day until I got to the very last letter in the pile. That one was from the Progress Club, which conducts its many charitable activities without fanfare. In the envelope was $1,500 for Children's Hospital. Wow!

As I count it, that's $2,675.50 from 17 groups, to which we can add $2,580 from 79 individuals to bring today's total to $5,255.50 -- enough for healing a broken leg, perhaps. Together with yesterday's $3,079.54 sprained ankle, it gives us a total of $8,335.04 in the shoebox. We're working our way up.