You may have noticed over the centuries that I rather like this river village. Small wonder.

We live in a city of purpose. For 203 years, people have been washing up on shore here to work for a better city, country and world. The influx and agenda show no signs of changing.

We've never had much industry or big business, and in a way, that's an asset. Washington is a city of passions. We dream big. We aim high. And by hard-and-fast measures, we succeed brilliantly.

The Washington area routinely provides three or four of the top-earning jurisdictions in the world. We are way up there in college and graduate degrees per household. For the most part, our kids attend excellent schools. We even consume less junk food than the residents of most other cities.

The Beltway may be notorious, but we can trump it with three excellent airports and a subway that has itself become a tourist attraction.

Unemployment? Far lower than the national average. Home ownership rates? Far higher. Cars of choice? We're heavy on foreign and expensive, relatively light on domestic and dull.

But all that is Visible Washington -- the D.C. that's on display in K Street cubicles and Tysons Corner watering holes. What about the infamous lower third? What about our neighbors who have little, and who have scant prospects of changing that?

Life is tough enough for these folks. But if a child of theirs gets sick or injured, they are often fresh out of options.

All too often, these Washingtonians lack insurance. Even if they have it, co-pays and deductibles can flatten a family's savings. And what about those who lack both insurance and cash? Do we tell a child who comes from such a family, "Real sorry, pal, but there's nothing we can do?"

I refuse to accept that, and happily, so does Children's Hospital.

I help raise funds for Children's each year so that families from Hidden Washington can get medical care for their children, regardless of their ability to pay.

Every cent we raise goes to this purpose. We never redirect a cent. For those of us here in Bean Counter Central, it's always a matter of ensuring that every child gets treated at Children's, every day.

We're into the final 11 days of this year's drive. If you'd like to vote with your checkbook for the kids of our community, the polls are open. Details follow at the bottom of today's column. Thank you very much for being the kinds of Washingtonians who make us proud to be Washingtonians.

These groups have stuffed the Children's mailbox in recent days:

IBSB bridge group, Georgetown University ($86.65).

Special Libraries Association ($80).

The Three Fours Club ($150).

The Red Hat Ladies of Barden School, Retired ($70).

The Friday Nighters ($165 instead of exchanging gifts).

Women's Auxiliary, Washington Hospital Center ($340).

First Woodlake Bridge Club ($40 via a charity club championship event).

The School Counseling Group, Inc., Northwest Washington ($55).

Employees, Corporate Press, Landover (a nice, round $1,000).

Creative Benefit Solutions, Rockville ($100).

Hogettes International (a glorious $5,000 from these glorious fans of the Washington Redskins).

Veridian Software Engineering Group ($200).

Brownie Troop 3560, Ashburn, Va. ($50).

Bauer Drive Piano Group ($51).

Employees, Produce Quality and Dafety Laboratory, Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville ($60 via a white elephant auction).

Metropolitan Washington Old Time Radio Club ($104 via a raffle).

TAB Products, McLean ($150 in lieu of a staff gift exchange).

Human Resources Department, Human Genome Sciences, Inc., Rockville ($1,102.60 instead of a gift exchange).

Staff, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies ($1,300, which marks the 37th consecutive donation from this group -- far and away the longest streak we have going -- thanks so much!).

Morning Stars Bowling League, Annandale ($100).

Division of Facilities Planning, Engineering and Safety, Food and Drug Administration ($80).

Age Group I Swimmers, Curl-Burke Swim Club, Reston ($40).

Staff, Child's Place Preschool, Sterling ($145 in lieu of a gift exchange).

Seminary Ladies Bowling League ($177 collected at a Christmas party).

Faculty and staff, Springbrook High School, Silver Spring ($1,400 in lieu of a holiday gift exchange, a record from this always-generous bunch).

Northern Virginia Alumnae Chapter, Alpha Sigma Tau Sorority ($100).

Publications/RCQS/BHQ/American Red Cross ($50).

The Tonkers ($286 in set-aside winnings, and thanks for hopping aboard for a 16th year).

Metropolitan D.C. Hand Dance Preservation Society ($1,000 from these swing-dance enthusiasts).

American Legion Auxiliary, Henderson-Smith-Edmonds Unit No. 86, Rockville ($280).

National Business Center, Department of the Interior, Reston ($200 via a raffle, with special thanks to Robert Byrne).

Staff, Office of Information and Technology Services, National Academy of Sciences ($1,106 via an auction at a holiday party, an all-time high from this crew).

U.S. EPA -- Office of the Inspector General -- Financial Audit Division's coffee fund ($84).

Washington Area Masons and Eastern Stars A.A.S.A.F.M. ($75).

Society of the Emeriti, George Washington University ($235).

Kennedy Center Tuesday Morning Volunteer Tour Guides ($185).

Staff and friends, Montessori Country School, Herndon ($220).

Hillandale Thursday Bridge Club, Silver Spring ($105).

Sherry Liebes and staff, College Gardens Elementary School, Rockville ($100).

Thanks so much.

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

In hand as of Jan. 10: $519,521.95.

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.