"Hope this will make the pipeline gurgle a little more strongly and help push it past that $223,000. Good luck!"

That brief message accompanied today's largest personal check from an "anonymous" District Liner. He sent $150 to help support the vital mission of Children's Hospital -- providing free (or affordable) pediatric care to any child seeking such help.

He joined thousands of others who all have helped make this year's fundraiser for Children's Hospital a success. Of course, the hospital sets no goals for us. To them. any fund-raising effort for the children is viewed as a triumph.

But tradition demanded a certain level of achievement from readers of The Washington Post, and from District Liners in particular. Bill Gold was able to develop and maintain enough support from his fans to deliver more money to the free-care fund in each successive year. His track record was unbroken during the 30-year stewardship of the hospital fund drive.

The campaign began with funds generated by some of Bill's pet projects, and evolved into the rewarding entity it is today. During the first few years, Bill merely reported the source and amount of contributions directed to the hospital. He says to-the-penny records weren't tallied because the dollar amounts were too small to require daily recapitulation. In fact, he now says, "The first year's total wasn't worth tallying or remembering."

That changed quickly enough. People from around the world had always recognized the value of our Children's Hospital. The opportunity to be part of an organized attempt to lend active support through the District Line column attracted many people.

Each year, the hospital's friends grew in number, with the result that each year District Liners surpassed their previous year's contributions. They shared with Bill the doldrums of slow days, the uplift of each new holiday season, and each new and higher level of support for needy children.

So by the time I inherited "For the Love of Children," the unspoken goal of directing more purchasing-power to the hospital each year was taken for granted.

At first, it appeared that this year's campaign would have little chance to top last year's total of approximately $223,000. Although the final results are not yet known, it now appears that we might just squeak past that sum.

Maybe.

Perhaps.

Especially if the pipeline has a few more gurgles like today's.

Our $150 contributor got an assist from 32 other unnamed friends of needy children. Together they sent the hospital $835.80. That alone would make me happy, so imagine my joy as we review the six group gifts.

Helping to move our totals up a $25 notch were the Bingo players of the Forest Glen Senior Citizens' Center in Silver Spring.

The officers who belong to Greenbelt Police Lodge No. 32 of the Fraternal Order of Police contributed $100 to the hospital. They sent the usual best wishes, including a "hope" that all District Liners understand: "We hope to be able to contribute again in the future." And your hope is our hope.

"Employees of the Dairy Division, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, decided again this year to make contributions to Children's Hospital instead of exchanging Christmas cards," a division member wrote. "Please add our contribution of $152 to your 'shoebox.'"

Former members of the National Capitol Housewares Club have been watching the interest compound on club funds of $250.93 for three years. They wrote, "The club was disbanded in 1977 and we hope that Children's Hospital can use the leftovers."

You bet! The leftovers were delicious. I'd wish such fare on myself.

The Supreme Court of the United States Police unit responded enthusiastically to a colleague's suggestion that a contribution be made to Children's Hospital. The officers pooled their efforts and resources and put together a $255 verdict in favor of little children who need medical help.

Guess who was here when we needed them, and was awarded top honors as well? You're right if you chose members of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Metropolitan Police Officers and staff from the Robbery, homicide, sex, and Special Investigations branches demonstrated their customary kindness and generosity by collecting $321.93 for use by "the hospital with the built-in deficit." Their contribution represents a whole lot of hope that the next several days will be equally fruitful for the hospital. Letters bearing a Jan. 31 postmark should trickle in until Feb. 8.

That's six groups, and their total came to $1,104.03. The sum of today's gifts from individuals and those from groups is $1,939.83. The total at last call on Wednesday night was $196,144.56. Blend in the daily increase and the result is $198,084.39. Thanks, officers. b

Tomorrow we'll clear $200,000.