Today is the first day that things seem back to normal since the week before Christmas. Today also marks the beginning of our sixth week of collecting funds for Children's Hospital National Medical Center.

Children's Hospital is required by its 1,000-year charter to provide free or low-cost medical treatment to needy children regardless of race, sex or creed, and regardless of the ability of the parents to pay for such care. The hospital has been providing this service to the children of Our Town since its incorporation in 1870.

So, we begin our sixth week with $88,819.48 in the famous old shoebox. I have a handful of offerings from the weekend mail pipeline ready for today's report, so let's get on with it.

I'll get a jump on our final total by telling you right now that 115 generous and concerned District Liners heard my recent pleas and responded with $3,368.64. Several area groups and organizations also sent help to the "Hospital with a Heart."

Two checks for $20 each got us started this morning. One came from the McLean Grand Slammers, hospital-supporting bridge players everyone one of them. The other $20 check came from the Systems Division of the Federal Judicial Center.

Landover's Reliable Delivery Service sent the kids $25 which was collected in lieu of exchanging Christmas cards at the office.

Three song-filled checks arrived. "A group of kids from Presley Manor in Lanham" went caroling on Dec. 23, raising a gift of $50. Another $50 came from the Mt. Vernon Manor carolers. Collecting $65 were "some members of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School choir and their friends." Well done, one and all!

"The enclosed check for $73 is from the GSA Electric Shop, NSA Building, Fort George G. Meade," wrote our friends there. The Transportation Department's Office of Research and Development, Federal Railroad Administration sent $95.

Checks totaling $141 from Pike & Fisher Inc. of Bethesda took us into triple-digit territory for the first time today. They use a "Merry Christmas to Children's Hospital" shoebox around the office to encourage communal generosity.

"As has become a tradition with the Chevy Chase Business and Professional Women's Club, it again voted this year to give 'gifts' to Children's Hospital at its annual Christmas party." They sent $161.

As usual, the fine folks at the Office of Water Program Operations at the Environmental Protection Agency collected for the children instead of exchanging greeting cards with their office mates. This year their effort netted $341.25. Using the same method, for the eighth year and with outstanding success, were employes of the management systems department at the American Association of Railroads. They boosted last year's gift by $140 to log in at $385 this year.

Employes of the National Automobile Dealers Association also remembered their annual contribution, sending in $603.69 this year. Part of the money was raised by the "NADART elves on the eighth floor" who made by hand some Christmas decorations which were then sold for donations to Children's Hospital.

"For the first time, employes of Scope Electronics Inc. have opted to send the enclosed to Children's Hospital rather than to exchange Christmas gifts," the people there wrote. They're starting their tradition with an $840 bang! Welcome aboard!

A group that's rapidly expanding their tradition is a bunch of employes at the U.S. Army Computer Systems Command Annex in Falls Church. They have an annual holiday cocktail party and "pay" Children's Hospital for the drinks. Two years ago they raised $160. Last year it was $202. This year they really outdid (out-drank?) themselves, raising $850.They exceeded their goal of $500 by 70 percent. Here's a big round of applause and a tip of the hat!

Our 15 group gifts totaled $3,719.94 this morning, which, when added to the $3,368.64 mentioned above, gives us a daily total of $7,088.58. Inasmuch as the shoebox held $88,819.48 on Saturday, it stands to reason that it holds $95,908.06 now.

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

Looks like we'll break the $1000,000 barrier tomorrow. Tune in then as we start the long march to $200,000.