"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is an old adage that remains as true today as it was when it was first coined. I mention it here because tomorrow is the inauguration of our next president, and with every change of national administrations, Our Town experiences a great influx of new faces and families.

Those faces and families may not have had the time yet to aquaint themselves with one of Washington's greatest institutions, and its unique mission in this area. I refer, of course to Children's Hospital.

Known as the hospital with a "built-in deficit," Children's was founded over 110 years ago for "the gratuitous medical and surgical treatment of indigent children without distinction of race, sex, or creed." No sick or injured child is ever turned away from Children's because the parents may be unable to pay the costs of necessary medical care.

The hospital attempts to recover whatever costs it can, either through direct payments, insurance, or other third-party payers. But the health of the patient always comes first. Money questions come later.

The same dedication that resulted in the establishment of a free care pediatric facility in 1870 has been instrumental in making Children's Hospital one of the top child medical care institutions in the country, if not the world, today. More than half the total number of children hospitalized in the District last year went to Children's. Its reputation is of such reknown that referral patients from all points of the globe find their way here.

This information is well-known to readers of "For the Love of Children," but I'm repeating it again for the benefit of new readers and new residents. To support the work of Children's Hospital in Our Town each year, The Washington Post makes this space available transmit information about the hospital and to seek contributions to the free care fund.

That's where the ounce of prevention comes in. Children's is dependent on the generosity of area citizens to assure the continuance of free care for needy children and the maintenance of a fine pediatric hospital for all children. In that sense, it would probably be a good idea for the hundreds of families that have moved or will move into Washington in the next several wekks to find out about Children's.

The best way to do that is to support the work of Children's with a contribution. Last year we collected over $231,000 here, and this year we've gathered almost $150,000 so far. Literally thousands of District Liners have responded to our appeal to aid the "hospital with a heart."

It's easy to do. Just 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. My job is to record, tally and report the contritubtions on a daily basis through this column. The rest is up to you.

This morning a few group and organizational contributions whistled through our under-used mail pipeline. The started out small, ended up very big, and each contained a message of concern and appreciation for Children's Hospital.

A group of youngsters from Potomac, Md., went out caroling before Christmas, not intending to collect money. Nonetheless, a family rewarded the singers with $2 which they sent to me. Thanks!

Two checks for $12 also arrived. One came from the 12 girls in Brownie Troop 773 in Vienna. They each did an hour's worth of household chores to raise their contribution. The other $12 came from the Grandmothers Bridge Club in Alexandria.

For the tenth year, employes of the American Geophysical Union have participated in our annual fund-raiser. This year they collected $307.70!

The big surprise this morning was two letters from the folks at the Defense Department's "Command and Control Technical Center elements located in Reston, Va." For the third time, they have accomplished the unbelievable feat of more than doubling their previous year's contribution. Their first letter contained $3,153.45. One method they used to collect all that money was a used book sale that netted $400. Their other letter contained $335.14, the amount generated by office coffee sales, for a grand total of $3,488.59. More tomorrow!