As was noted here on the first of the month, this is the time of year when District Liners take dead aim at the built-in annual deficit at Children's Hospital.
Only a newcomer to the Washington area needs to be told why that operating deficit is built-in: it's because the hospital is dedicated to the service of children whose parents can't pay. No child is ever turned away for lack of money.
To raise the money that 's needed to wipe out each year's deficit, the hospital conducts an annual fund appeal that, in good years, brings in a million dollars during December and January. Of this amount, some $175,000 was raised last year by readers of this column - most of it in the two weeks before and two weeks after Christmas.
Although the big gifts are concentrated during the holiday season,some contributions for the children come in all year long. Between Feb. 1 and Dec. 1, I do not mention them because the readers and I have worked out an agreement: they put up with my fund-raising during the holiday season, and then for the remainder of the year I don't even mention Children's Hospital.
But when it's time to begin a new campaign I can announce that during the monghs of enforced silence I received X dollars for the children, and this gets us off to a nice start. This year, X equalled $10.359.62.
To this we can now add $25 raised by members of the Junior Girls Unit of the Ladies Auxilliary to VFW Post 9619. They earned the money by putting on a pancake breakfast and doll raffle. This is the fourth straight year that these young women (ages 6 to 18) have sent me a check for the hospital.
Another $25 is at hand from employees of the Hub Laundry. Wheaton Post 268 of the American Legion also sent in $25. The Gab and Game Club of Hyattsville usually accompanies it scheck with a happy little note, but this year it said, "We're sending the enclosed $35 in memory of Jane, who is no longer with us." Employees of The Social List of Washington sent in $50, also in memory of a beloved colleague.
The Riverdale Hills Women's Club remembered the children again, this yea r with a check for $50. Central Lodge No. 1, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, another of the hospital's loyal supporters, also contributed $50. Customers who got free notary service form the Routh Robbins realty office in Annandale chipped in $95 for the hospital ot express their thanks.And a charity fund administered by B'nai B'rith topped off today's gifts from groups with $100.
As I figure it, these nine gifts come to $455. In addition, I have received 33 contributions from individuals (who are never identified in these reports. Their gifts total $1,387.44.
You might find it interesting to look at a breakdown by amount. Four letters contained $5 checks, seven were at $10 each, one was for $15 and one for $20. The contributor of $21 explained that she saved pennies all year to raise the money. A reader who was rewarded with a check for $24.44 after a long argument with a department store's computer sent me the entire amount for the children.
There were nine checks for $25 each, one of them from an Army colonel whose comments on traffic conditions here have been forwarded to appropriate authorities. There were three checks for $35 each, and one for $37 from a woman who is 37 years old. I hope she lives to be a million.
There were three $50 checks, one for $100, and one for $600. The $600 man is usually a $500 given. The extra $100 this year, he explained, is because he knows that the hospital's costs are higher now; and besides, he's kind of glad I'm back on the job. People, as I may have commented before, are nicer than anybody.
The abacus says that $455 from groups added to $1,387.44 form individuals gives us $1,842.44 for the day. When we include the $10,359.62 that came in during the months I was honor-bound not to write about Children's Hospital, our running tally stans at $12,202.06.