"In the commercialization of Crhistmas, we often forget to realize what it really is -- the celebration of the birth of a child," wrote an anonymous Virginia couple. "We can't think of a better way to commemorate this season than by helping the hospital that aids all children. Sorry it can't be more, but we hope all of us will each give what we can to keep Children's Hospital's doors always open."

Giving what you can is all anyone reasonably expects. Every gift to the free care fund at Children's Hospital helps a little, regardless of amount. Each helps insure that the needy residents of Our Town will always have a place to take their sick children, a place where concern comes first.

Many of the letters I receive contain apologies for the small contributions enclosed. One dollar, or even five dollars, certainly isn't very much, but the thousands of small gifts that find their way into the free care fund together pack a powerful punch. If just half the residents of Our Town sent in one dollar apiece, we'd have to buy a large shoebox. Oh, happy day!

So, if you're thinking about not responding this year because all you can spare doesn't strike you as enough, just remember, "Every little bit helps." Especially when it's combined with scores of other little bits, and, occasionally, big bits.

Today the pipeline brought a large fistful of mail. Letters were received from 117 individuals which contained $3,221. More than two dozen area employers and organizations sent contributions to Children's. I'll mention as many as possible this morning, and finish up tomorrow.

First up today are members of the Children's Hospital constituency.Seven Girl Scouts belonging to Brownie Troop No. 2315 sent $5. Another club, the Star Point Society, Hope Chapter No. 73, OES, in Fairfax, sent $10.

The odd amount of $13.35 arrived from members of the Finance Purchasing and Facilities departments of Litton Bionetics in Kensington. The money was left over after an office holiday luncheon.

A gift of $18.18 arrived from "a few of the staging guys at WRC-TV." The folks at VITA, Volunteers in Technical Assistance, sent $20 to Children's, explaining "as a non-profit agency ourselves, we know what it's like to depend on other people's money, and helping the hospital adds a little extra to our celebration."

"What better contribution can us old fogies make but to the children?" questioned a letter from the Civil Service Commission Retiree's Luncheon Group. They sent $25 and posed the question that has no answer.

The "basket" was passed at the annual Christmas party of Washington Alumnae of Gamma Phi Beta Society, yielding a gift of $37. Sending $37.10 were members of the Somerset Bridge Club in Fairfax. A check for $38 came from employes of the Food and Drug Administration's Division of Cosmetics Technology.

A raffle held by the Community Woman's Club in Annandale netted $50 for the free care fund at Children's. Instead of exchanging Christmas gifts, the staff of the Head Start Resource and Training Center decided to mail the kids $55 instead. Employes of the US Army Equipment Authorizations Review Activity declined to circulate interoffice Christmas cards, saving $56 which they forwarded to me.

A very small northern Virginia group, the Somerset Garden Club, once again decided against gift exchanges, electing instead to send the hospital $65. Adding $75 were members of the "T" Club, D.C. Air National Guard at Andrews AFB.

Today's clean-up batter is the International Union of Electrical Workers. They began collecting contributions for worthy area charities 5 years ago in lieu of exchanging Christmas cards, and this year "we decided that Children's Hospital would be a most deserving recipient of our fifth annual contribution." The kind folks there sent $1,000.

As noted, gifts totaling $3,221 arrived from 117 District Liners, and another $1,504.63 was added by 15 local groups, making today's addition to the shoebox $4,725.63. Added to our previous year-to-date figure of $38,101.08 gives us a start-of-the-week total of $42,826.71.

Please send your tax-deductible check, made payable to Children's Hospital, to: Scott Chase, c3/8o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.