As I have mentioned, our fund drive for Children's Hospital seems destined to fall short of last year's total.

Until now, the hospital has always dared to spend whatever was needed to help children whose parents were too poor to pay. When it ran out of money toward the end of a year, local banks came to the rescue, certain that the Christmas fund drive would bring in enough money to wipe out the annual operating deficit. It is not pleasant to contemplate what will happen if a fund drive falls short.

There has been no shoebox report since Wednesday because there wasn't enough in the pipeline to be worth writing about. Today, thank goodness, I can make this report:

The Young-In-Heart Group of the Congress Heights United Methodist Church sent me $10 for the children. Staffers in the University of Maryland's Tachnical Advisory Service exchanged no holiday cards among themselves to add $18 to our drive. Chafitz employees, who know a thing or two about cordless abacuses, got up a kitty of $22.03.

The Electronic Fabrication Branch of the Army's Harry Diamond Laboratories sent me $30, and a family of three that received a $30 Christmas gift voted to send the money to me for the children.

Checks totaling $35 arrived from ERS, USDA - which any District Liner of sufficient longevity can tell you means: Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. When a photographer retired from the National Ocean Survey, the $40 chipped in for his parting gift was, at his request, transformed into a gift for the hospital with the built-in deficit.

A check for $50 was sent in by the Phi Delta Sorority of Christian Women, and another $50 arrived from the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. John Baptist de la Salle Church of Chillum.

Fortunately for the children, we have a few three-digit contributions to record. The Reproduction Department of Vitro Labs Division of Automation Industries refrained from exchanging $252.35 worth of in-house Christmas cards. Employees of Macro Systems, Inc., (Silver Spring) chipped in a tidy $291. The Office of Textiles in the Commerce Department lifted my spirits with an even $300.

Top honors for the day went to employees of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp.They declined to send each other $423.50 worth of holiday cards.

To summarize: 13 groups sent in $1,551.88, and 27 individuals added $583 to move us forward by $2,134.88. We had $147,331.13 in the shoebox on Wednesday, so now we have $149,466.01. It is painfully that by Jan. 31 we will not be able to equal the $171,807 raised last year.