You generous readers are making this look easy.

As we pass the five-week mark of our annual eight-week fundraising campaign on behalf of Children's Hospital, the news is all good. We remain comfortably in front of last year's totals -- and that campaign proved to be a record-breaker.

Is our first million-dollar year in sight? Very much so.

Here are the Week Five numbers:

Our goal by Jan. 24: $1,000,000.

In hand as of Jan. 2: $440,490.09.

In hand at the same time last year: $337,407.07.

How delicious to exceed last year's comparable- week numbers by more than $100,000 for the first time.

If we can maintain that margin, we'll reach our ambitious seven-digit goal. And if we reach the goal, Children's Hospital will be able to do more of what it's so famous for doing: providing world- class medical care to patients whose families can't cover the tab.

It's always a little dangerous to report such good news -- especially with three weeks to go in the 2002-03 drive. Some of you might think you can let Ye Olde Checkbook gather dust. You might figure we're doing so well that your dollars won't make a difference.

They'll make all the difference.

We still need a powerful finish. We can't get there without lots of help from lots of people. I've seen many Children's campaigns sag at the end and fall short. This one might do that if fence- sitters don't climb down and help out.

Please support this standout Washington institution. It has been a pillar in this community since 1870. It still is. The kids are counting on you.

Thanks very much.

TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAMPAIGN:

Make a check or money order payable to

Children's Hospital and mail it to

Bob Levey's Campaign for Children's,

P.O. Box 75528, Baltimore, Md. 21275-5528.

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.

TO CONTRIBUTE ONLINE:

Go to

www.washingtonpost.com/childrenshospital and follow instructions.