I have just written one of the most painful $2 checks of my entire check-writing career.

I paid it to the order of Children's Hospital -- which isn't painful in the slightest. One year may have given way to another over the weekend, but the hospital's status as the most deserving institution in River City hasn't changed a bit. Children's is a worthy destination for anybody's two bucks, as it has been for more than a century.

So what hurts? My pride, sports fans. Gary Cameron got me, just the way he said he would.

Gary, a photographer here at The Post, plays first base for our newsroom softball team. I play third. That means that I frequently aim throws in Gary's general direction.

All too often, however, my throws miss connections with Gary's mitt, and I am treated to the wondrous spectacle of a softball bouncing merrily off toward the next county. Meanwhile, the base runner I was trying to throw out waltzes his way past second, heading for third, with a stop at shortstop for a long discussion about the weather, the stock market and Mondale's chances in '84.

The question, of course, is whose fault all this is. Were these errant Levey throws or bungled Cameron catches? And how should we settle this in fairest fashion?

Gary and I agreed before the season that each error would cost a buck. If it was the fault of my throwing arm, I'd be liable. If he should have caught the throw and didn't, he'd be liable. The jury would be our peers -- those sterling souls who call themselves our teammates. The difference in dollars would go to Children's.

The 1982 totals have just been furnished by our coach, Don Beard. They read: two errors for Cameron and four for me.

So two bucks it is. May every one of your lenses cloud up and rain on you, Cameron. And quit that giggling. There's always next year.

Jeff Leach of Alexandria has the spirit. "I sat down and wrote Children's Hospital a check for $10," he writes. "Then it dawned on me that $10 doesn't go far any more. So here is $25."

May similar insight dawn on your fellow donors, Jeff. Thanks much.

The file of Groups That Gave is getting thick. Let's thin it down a bit:

* When the members of the Barnard Elementary School Student Council and the Junior Red Cross went caroling Dec. 17, they raised $40.10 for the hospital. Enough to deck the halls, gang. Thank you.

* Junior Girl Scout Troop 115 of Clinton did pretty well, too -- raising $22.01 through the sale of Christmas wreaths. Nicely done, ladies.

* They call themselves the E.O.T.N.B.C., short for Every Other Thursday Night Bridge Club. I call them generous -- $25 worth of generous. Thanks, bridgies.

* Great Vacations, Inc., of Washington donated $300 to our campaign, and the staff of Aerospace Industries Association of America, Inc., gave $425. Thanks to both.

Staffs, staffs, where would we be without staffs? At the following organizations, staff members gave the following amounts: Mike Casey Realty of Suitland ($108), Parents Without Partners, Inc., of Bethesda ($260), the Farmers Home Administration at the Agriculture Department ($275), St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Alexandria ($10), the Third and Fourth floors of the World Bank's L Street building ($325) and the Defense Intelligence Agency, at the urging of Kevin S. Lowry ($40). Much appreciated, one and all.

And where would we be without schools, and all the people in them? Much the poorer, as the following contributors make clear: my pals in the Eastern High School Band($100), the special education teachers at Christ Church Child Center (St. Francis campus) in Potomac ($20), the freshman class at Hammond Junior High School in Alexandria ($100), the students at Rocky Run Intermediate School in Chantilly ($130 from a holiday dance), students taking Psychology 232 (Human Growth and Development) at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Va. ($15), staffers at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria ($339), students in grades four through eight at Grace Lutheran School in Falls Church ($20), Sharon Kramer's fourth grade class at Wayside Elementary School in Potomac ($15), second graders at the same school ($40) and parents of Wilde Lake Children's Nursery students in Columbia ($25). Good show!

* Fast Eddie was never like this, but he should have been. Harold Brown Jr. and Fred Mooney of Waldorf put together an eight-ball pool tournament for the benefit of Children's. It was held at McCauley's Pub in Waldorf, and $268 was raised. Well stroked, as they say, fellas.

* Phone pholk came through in ringing fashion (horrible!). The gang at Ma Bell's Wheaton Phone Center contributed $100 to the Terry Cobert Memorial Fund, and the operators at Prince George's General Hospital gave $40. Thanks to all.

* Below $50, but appreciated as if they were over $1 million: Donations from the Asset Protection Department at IBM-Gaithersburg ($35), the third grade class at St. John's School in Hollywood, Md. ($4.01), the Metro Chapter of AMC Cancer Research Center and Hospital ($25), the staff at the Standard Federal Savings branch in Riverdale ($25), Junior Girl Scout Troop 274 of Seabrook ($31.75), the Prince George's County Crossing Guards Bowling League ($20), the staff of Parent Patent Research, Inc. of Alexandria ($25), the Third Division, Alexandria Police Department ($40), the Social Committee of the Gelman Library at George Washington University ($40), employes of Comsel Corporation in Vienna ($32, collected from the office "swear box"), the library staff at Daughters of the American Revolution headquarters ($8.55), of the Recruiting, Information and Testing Branch of the Washington Area Office of the Office of Personnel Management ($15.65), the Colonel Young Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans ($25) and the employes of the Springfield office of General Electric ($20).

* Finally, a seven-course salute to the waiters at the Palm Restaurant downtown, who gave $420 of their hard-earned tip money to help heal the kids at Children's. Thanks very much, guys.

To contribute to the campaign:

Make a check or money order payable to Children's Hospital and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.