Just when a feeling of depression concerning this season's fund-raising drive for Children's Hospital was about to overtake me, the disc jockeys and listeners of American University's very popular WAMU-AM radio station came through in their usual way for the needy children of Our Town.
During the days from November 30 to December 4, the jocks brought a Winnebago camper on campus and set up a collection booth for Children's Hospital. The station's staff and about 40 other volunteers stalked strolling students with Christmas stockings, collecting hundreds of dollars. Others auctioned off record albums and used books. The nearby Swensen's Ice Cream parlor and Pueblo Joe's, a Mexican eatery, donated gift certificates which were also auctioned to students.
To reach the entire campus, WAMU-AM broadcasted appeal messages from such luminaries as Bob Hope and House Speaker Tip O'Neill. The brightly festooned Winnebago caught a lot of attention and generated a lot of contributions.
The other necessary ingredients, love and concern for needy children, have been in abundance at American University for at least the last 20 years. That's when the disc jockeys first began their annual effort for Children's Hospital.
"In those two decades, the students here have contributed nearly $60,000 to the hospital," station manager John Barba said proudly. "This year's collection is already in the bank collecting interest."
The students at American set aside $2,361 for Children's during that week.
Barba said that amount had grown to nearly $2,500 since deposit, but for our purposes, let's call it $2,361.
That's a real blockbuster at this eleventh hour in our drive.
A total of 29 other letters also arrived with gifts for the free-care fund at Children's. That fund is used to provide free or low-cost medical care to children whose parents can't afford to pay for it.
All of those 29 letters came from anonymous individuals. Here's the gist of just a few of them:
"One doesn't really need a reason to contribute to a drive 'For the Love of Children,' especially when one is the parent of 10 of them, and grandparent of 10 more," wrote one District Liner. "Looking for reasons keeps us senior citizens looking on the good side, and that's a definite plus."
Another letter came from a concerned individual who was doing her level best to keep looking at the good side of things. She wrote:
"I find myself this year just where I was at this time last year," her letter read. "I have long ago sent my contribution of $30 to you for Children's Hospital. But now as I watch the total each day I find you short of money. So once again I am going back to the drawing board, Scott. I am enclosing another check in the amount of $20."
Our writer added that she finds herself "worrying about the people who are not OK and their medical bills are driving them up the wall."
Her second check to Children's was, in my humble opinion, a creative and useful way to express her concern. Many thanks!
"Janury 31st is a special day for me this year," wrote yet another unnamed District Liner. "I will be 70 years old."
January 31st is also a very special day for me, for two reasons. Most importantly, it is the day when the mail pipeline closes off on your end. I'll continue to report the stragglers that come to my attention until February 7th, when the shoebox will take a well-deserved vacation until next time, and I'll return to my regular duties on the business news staff.
The other important reason is that, believe it or not, January 31st is also my birthday. I'll be 28. Nothing would make me happier on Saturday than to come in and see my mail slot bulging with last-minute contributions to Children's Hospital. That would be a present to remember. Since we're still behind, I'm not embarrassed to ask for it.
Anyway, our 29 anonymous contributors chipped in $688 and, as mentioned. WAMU-AM collected $2,361 for a daily figure of $3,049. Since the shoebox held $161,393.31 yesterday, today's infusion brings our year-to-date total to $164.442.31.
Time is rapidly running out for our 1980-81 campaign. There's not a moment left for procrastination. 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. Do it now! w