"Here I am, as usual, the little old lady in tennis shoes with her eyes in the gutter for our children," began a letter from an annual supporter of Children's Hospital. The writer hunts for lost pennies to add to her yearly check to our free care fund.

"Here's this year's accounting," she wrote.

"$1.39 -- found here, in S.C. and Ga. (inflation's hit everybody);

"$10.00 -- in memory of a friend who died Christmas morning after raising five kids;

"$24.00 -- three sessions of modeling for a friend's art classes (they must like wrinkles);

"$10.00 -- another modeling fee;

"$5.00 -- my usual contribution to Children's Hospital.

"It seems that things are going on as usual at the Hospital: poor kids, rich kids -- minor problems, major problems. Ordinary people want to help -- hopefully, lots of them. The service must not stop!"

Our little old lady joined 42 other anonyous contributors who sent the hospital $1,964.19 this morning. A fat handful of mail also arrived from several area groups and employers.

Three groups of schoolchildren got the show on the road today. One classroom at Oakton Elememtary School had their party and still managed to raise $17 for the hospital. A check for $18 came from third graders at Cresthaven School in Silver Spring, boosting their total this year to a record $48. "The kids are thrilled to be able to contribute again toward a healthier year for their friends in Children's Hospital," their teacher wrote. Checks worth $32.20 came from sixth grade students at Gaithersburg's Whetstone Elementary School.

The artists at the Canal House Gallery in Georgetown sent in $50 as did the financial market wizards at The Penny Stock Newsletter, published in Columbia, Md. Five checks totaling $71 arrived from the Educational Department's Office of International Education.

Rockville's Banner Glass Inc. came through again this year for Children's Hospital. They sent $77.96. In lieu of exchanging Christmas cards, the staff of the Congressional Record Index Office sent the free card fund $84.50.

The crystal Club of Calvary United Methodist Church, as has been their custom for years, once again sent $100. Checks totaling $120 were received from members of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, Chapter M of the District. A $150 check from "the women of the Altrusa Club of Montgomery County" was raised through raffles, theater parties and tupperware parties. Some of the staff at the American Newspaper Publishers Association "opted to take the money they would normally spend for intra-office Christmas cards and donate it to Children's Hospital." They saved $160 for needy children.

Employes at Morgan Millwork Co. in Alexandria decided to send the children a check for $200 instead of having a Christmas party. The non-exchange of Christmas cards realized $227 from old friends at the Smithsonian Science Information Exchange Inc. The same method netted $233.13 for the kids from employes of "the Directorate of Industrial Security, Washington Region, Defense Investigative Service, and its field offices in Alexandria and Silver Spring."

The "in lieu of" scheme also worked for the teachers and staffers at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria. They set up a bulletin board based on the song,"Children Are The World's Tomorrow," and assigned musical notes to contributors. The raised $331, which is music to my ears.

"The employes of W.J. Schafer Associates, continuing the practice we started last year, are pleased to donate a total of $748 to the Children's Hospital Fund." Thank you all!

Today's head honchos are the "officers, stewards and members of the Communications Workers of America, Local 2108" in Silver Spring. They communicated their thoughts of love and concern for the needy children of Our Town with a check for $910.50.

Today's total from the 18 groups listed above is $3,580.29, which, when added with the $1,964.19 from anonyous District Liners, gives a daily total of $5,544.48. Inasmuch as the shoebox held $124,734.59 on Saturday, it stands to reason that it must hold $130,279.07 now.

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.

Don't forget the children. They're counting on us for our help.