We have added a generous new member to the club that battles the "built-in deficit" in the budget at Children's Hospital. Her brief letter should help some regular District liners get out their checkbooks. It says:

"I am a newcomer to this area, but my son praises the Children's Hospital very highly and believes it deserves everyone's backing. So here is my check for $500."

We'll never know what her son said to evoke such a magnanimous response. Maybe he should donate some of his ideas to the fund-raisers at Children's. They tell me things are moving slow so far this year.

Our own annual appeal for funds to support "the gratuitous medical and surgical treatment of indigent children without distinction of race, sex or creed . . ." is keeping pace with last year's campaign.

Far be it from me to criticize, but staying even just isn't getting ahead. We really need to bury last year's total. A goal was not set for District Liners because it's discouraging to always be looking up.

But if you want an idea of the minimum amount needed to call this year's campaign a smashing success, just add our economy's inflation rate of about 12 percent to the amount Bill funneled to the hospital last year -- $223,000. I'm not going to do the arithmetic, because right now I don't want to know.

Perhaps after Christmas, if it looks like we're going to cruise right past the old mark, I'll stick my neck out and establish a "goal." It's up to District Liners, and new friends, to make that possible.

Fortunately, today's bundle of mail was a little fatter than usual. I hope it's the beginning of a long-lasting new trend. Of the 91 letters received, eight contained contributions from groups or organizations.

I'll let the letters speak for themselves, and add part of a long night's salary to my contribution for getting off easy.

"Enclosed is a check ($15) for Children's Hospital from the personnel of the Property Management Branch, Goddard Space Flight Center. Happy Holiday's!"

A newsletter prepared for members of the Henderson-Smith-Edmonds Unit No. 86, American Legion Auxiliary, said ". . . all who attend the December meeting, please bring a check in the amount of $2. . ." The treasurer collected contributions from 17 members, and a vote was taken "to round it out" to $50.

"I am enclosing, checks which total $60 as a contributin to Children's Hospital. Please give credit to 'Employees on the third floor, Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks.'" You asked for it, you got it. Thanks!

A contributor on the staff of the Office of External Relations at Intelsat wrote, "We decided to forgo the exchange of gifts among ourselves and to wish other members of our organization Happy Holidays in person. Result: $80 for Children's Hospital." How I love those "results."

"Enclosed please find checks and a money order totaling $85 from the employees of Remco Business Systems, Inc., and Leo's Carry-Out from our 'Money Tree." This combination seems unusual, but who's complaining?

"This year's Christmas party was a great success. We were able to more than double the money we raised for Children's Hospital last year," said a letter containing a check for $140 from the folks at Harry J. Ginter Associates.

A group of friends employed by the Research and Education Department of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers added a new twist to an old idea and came up with $248. "Ten of us have put a little money aside each week over the past year to be used for a worthy cause at Christmas. aThe consensus was that Children's Hospital serves many children and we feel that children are very, very special." Anyone else interested in starting a Christmas Club for Children's Hospital?

The employees and friends of the "Outside Plant" Section/Property Records Department, PEPCO, wrote, "We would like to wish a very Merry Christmas to Children's Hospital with this contribution from all of us." Enclosed was a check for $253.

Our eight groups contributed a total of $931. Add that to the $2,933 sent in by 83 friends of the hospital, and you arrive at today's total of $3,864. In as much as the shoebox held $32,891.66 yesterday, we now have $36,755.66.

Here's that address again. Please mail your tax-deductible check, payable to Children's Hospital, to: Scott Chase, c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW. Washington, D.C. 20071.

P.S. All through the writing of this column, I tried to close my mind to the worrisome question, "How much is 12 percent of $223,000?" I was not successful. Bill's cordless abacus says 12 percent of $223,000 is $26,760 -- which means that if we want to stay even with inflation we're going to have to raise $250,000 this year. Heavenly days!