The first week of our annual fund-raising campaign on behalf of Children's Hospital is in the books, and the news is excellent. We are comfortably ahead of where we were after Week One a year ago.

Will that trend continue? I'm hoping hard. In any case, the extra dollars we have raised so far are dollars we don't have to hope for seven weeks from now, when the campaign ends. When you're hoping instead of counting at the end of a Children's campaign, you're probably in trouble.

The Week One figures, hot off the adding machine:

Our goal by Jan. 21: $650,000.

In hand as of Dec. 2: $66,610.12.

In hand last year at the same time: $46,030.24.

If you're a fan of percentages, chew on these: We are about 10 percent of the way toward our goal after 12.5 percent of the time we have to get there. That isn't perfection, but it is certainly close.

As you can see, we have set our goal quite high this year (the 51st in a row that The Washington Post has raised money for Children's during the winter holidays). The reason is that the need never goes away, or out of style.

The money we raise goes to pay the medical bills of Children's patients whose families cannot afford to pay them. There has never been a shortage of such families, and there never will be.

Giving to our campaign is a Washington tradition. Our success doesn't depend on big-bucks philanthropists or foundations. This is a little-guy campaign -- always has been, always will be. Every check gets us closer to where we need to be. No amount is too small to make a difference.

Please help today. We'd like to see seven more weeks just like the first. Your generosity will get us there. Thank you very much.

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.

BY VISA OR MASTERCARD:

Call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 on a touch-tone phone. Then punch in K-I-D-S, or 5437, and follow instructions.