Last year at the end of our sixth week of collecting funds for Children's Hospital our famous shoebox held $138,956.59. Today's contributions aren't going to get us caught up, but they'll get us a lot closer.

I've almost gotten used to being more than $10,000 behind last year's recording-breaking pace. Almost, but not quite. I have faith that there's an untapped reservoir of good will and concern about to overflow for the finest pediatric facility in Our Town.

It's got to happen because Children's Hospital, relies on public support to overcome the "built-in deficit" created by providing free or low cost medical treatment to needy children regardless of the parent's ability to pay for such care. The hospital was created over a century ago to perform these services.

Pretty soon the mail pipeline is going to feel a large influx of letters bearing gifts as that famous District Line species, the procrastinator, wakes up to the fact that our cut-off date is only three weeks away. I hope to have lots of good news to report as the letters flow in from thousands of them. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, let's give credit where credit is due. This morning letters arrived from 31 on-time area residents containing $861 for Children's Hospital. Support in the form of group contributions came from the following concerned area organizations and employers.

Today's first gift, of $25, came in memory of the last person murdered in the District in 1980. He was a messanger for Arlington Courier Enterprises and had many friends at The Washington Post and elsewhere around the city.His coworkers felt he would have liked to be rememberd this way.

A huge bag of change and dollar bills totaling $47 arrived from the employes at Washington Aqueduct Division. Burton, Parsons & Co. Inc. sent in $50, bringing their year-to-date total to $120.

Two other groups also each contributed $50. One check came from the "boys and girls at Bennett Elementary" school in Manassas. The other came from the Federal City Four, a barbershop quartet that has supported Children's Hospital for the last several years.

The Rosslyn office of Logicon Inc. collected $75 for the kids. The Management and Resources Directorate of the Defense Investigative Service once again "decided to forgo greeting card exchanges" and sent out young patients $77.

A check for $125 arrived from the guys and girls over at the Construction Statistics Division of the Census Bureau. They included the profits of their soft drink machine along with the savings from the non-exchange of Christmas cards. The wonderful people at the National Training Center of the Internal Revenue Service collected $126.

"For the past five years this company has participated in your 'no Christmas card exchange' program," wrote employes of Capitol City Glass Michael Gitelson Cancer Research Fund at Children's Hospital.

"Merry Christmas to the children of Children's Hospital from the men and women of Officer Systems Branch, HQDA Military Systems Division, Personnel Information Systems Directorate, MILPERCEN." Through a combination of selling baked goods and not exchanging Christmas cards, the people there raised $475 for the free care fund.

The Army Department's Office of the Chief of Engineers' Federal Women's Program Committee sponsored its first "of hopefully many drives for Children's Hospital National Medical Center throughout OCE." The hospital was rewarded with a whopping $538 for their initial efforts. Welcome!

Top contributors this morning were more employes of the Chief of Engineers from the Planning Division of the Civil Works Office. "This is our tenth year with your campaign in which we try to express our feeling that 'The Corps Cares.'" They increased last year's gift of $620 to $775 this year.

These 13 groups added $2,768 to the $861 sent in anonymously for a daily total of $3,629. As we said, the shoebox held $121,105.59 at the start of today's tally, so it now holds $124,734.59. Not good and not bad.

To help, 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.