The second week of our annual fund-raising campaign on behalf of Children's Hospital is in the books, and the news is worrisome. We are certainly not doing badly, but we have fallen behind our pace of last year for the first time.

Here are the Week Two totals:

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

In hand as of Dec. 9: $98,316.32.

In hand last year at the same time: $116,217.08.

To trail last year's Week Two total by $18,000 is not irreparable. We could easily catch up with one trip to the mailbox.

But the furrows in my brow are deepening, because momentum is a big part of what we do, and we haven't built the kind of momentum that a record-breaking campaign needs. In years past, when we have fallen short of our goal, we have begun to slide during Week Two. I'm already recognizing signs of a disappointing bottom line six weeks from now.

I hope you'll help our momentum turn in the right direction by making a contribution.

This is the 51st consecutive year that The Washington Post has raised money for Children's during the holiday season. Every cent we raise goes to pay the bills of Children's patients who are too poor to do so. Our drive is a tradition for the best of reasons: the need never vanishes, and your support never has, either.

No gift is too big or too small. Every gift is acknowledged, and deeply appreciated. Many thanks in advance to all who kick in.

These groups have contributed to our campaign in recent days:

Hillandale Thursdays Bridge Club ($140).

Alan & Corinne Swoff Charitable Foundation, Chevy Chase ($1,000).

Crusaders Class, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Falls Church ($100).

Creative Benefit Solutions, Rockville ($200 in lieu of exchanging cards, with special thanks to Stephen B. Miller).

Suzie Ritz's Grade 2B students, Saint Jerome's School, Hyattsville ($40 by doing chores at home).

The Lieu-ies of Bowles Fluidics Corp., Columbia ($480 by refraining from buying things for one another, with special thanks to Lee Owens).

Much obliged, one and all.

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.