Our annual fund-raising campaign on behalf of Children's Hospital will accept money in any form, from any source. But I was especially glad to receive a nice, round $200 the other day from Tom Verba, of Northwest. Tom is a member of a club that I helped found--the 45ers Club. You have to have been born in 1945 to qualify. Tom was, and as he insisted on reminding me, I was, too.

As Tom points out in his cover note, we 45ers have always had a bit of an identity crisis. We are far too young to be Depression children, but we're a year too old to be boomers. That crop began to sprout in 1946.

We 45ers make it a point to sneer at 46ers and all who followed throughout the Ozzie and Harriet years. It wasn't amazing that they got conceived. After all, their fathers were home, for the most part.

Ours were either on the other side of the world, serving in the military, or welding bombers together for 100 hours a week. We 45ers are living proof that the mating urge can overpower war, exhaustion, separation, just about anything. Anyway, Tom is one of several 45ers who contribute each year to our campaign. "We 45ers must stick together," he writes. Tom (and his wife, Jane) have shown us how. Well done, age-mate.

How do children learn to give as well as get? It helps hugely if Mom and Dad steer them in that direction. In the case of Alex Nesvisky, 4, and his brother, Aidan, 2, Mom and Dad are steering in a big way. Our annual Children's Hospital drive is the beneficiary.

When David Nesvisky comes home from work, he likes to change out of his suit before playing with his boys. David takes the coins out of his pocket and tosses them into a box. "Recently, the box began to overflow," writes David's wife, Tamsin. So she decided to play Let's Sort the Change with the boys.

Into one bag went all the quarters, into another went all the dimes, and so on. Mother and sons on a shopping spree with some of the quarters--but not for themselves. They bought toys and donated them to Toys for Tots.

Most families would have stopped right there. Not the Nesviskys. They donated all the rest to our Children's drive. It's " 'found' money for us, and this is another thing the boys can relate to--helping sick children," Tamsin writes. Thanks, you four.

We are always glad to accept foreign money for our Children's Hospital drive. As office jargonists might say, it's a win-win proposition. Our campaign coffers get fatter, and your dresser drawer stops groaning under the weight of dough you may never use again.

Ruth A. Harvey recently dispatched 150 deutsche marks our way. On a trip to Germany, "I was met with so much hospitality that I came back with more money than I had thought!"

Thanks, Ruth. Any others care to copy?

"My husband got a raise and a promotion last month," writes Debra Loughner, of Fairfax Station. "I think I'll share it with Children's Hospital." Share Debra did--$50 worth.

Have your fortunes taken a turn to the north this year? Why not share some of those good outcomes with children whose families can't pay for their medical care? All the money we collect for Children's Hospital each year goes to that purpose, and no other.

By the way, your thanks-for-a-good-year gift doesn't have to be monstrous. If we got just $10 from everyone reading today's column, we'd reach our goal easily. Thanks in advance.

Mark Pankin, of Arlington, gave thanks in another way--for being spared.

Mark writes that he usually gives $25 to our campaign. This year, he bumped that to $100, because he has gotten no junk mail and no phone calls from solicitors during 1999.

You ought to let the rest of us know how you managed that, Mark. In any case, thanks for remembering sick kids amid all those dinners that are no longer being interrupted.

Lisa Bacon's gift to Children's is going up, too--because her kids have been spared.

Lisa and her husband, Robert, have been "contributing to this campaign for many years," Lisa writes. "I'm increasing my check this year [to $40] for all the times that I have never had to use Children's Hospital.

"I look at this as my 'insurance policy.' My George and Emily are a very healthy 9 and 6--and we aim to keep it that way!"

I'm rooting for you, Bacons. Thanks for a gift that counts, and a reason that matters.

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

In hand as of Dec. 25: $269,999.11.


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


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