John W. Scott of Alexandria isn't overly impressed with news about whether the groundhog saw his shadow or didn't.
Jack calls it "Sausage Day," not "ground hog," and offers the opinion: "If the groundhog sees his shadow, that means we'll have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, we'll have only 42 more days of it."
For me, the big question is whether the groundhog heard a gurgle out of our Children's Hospital mail pipeline - and I doubt that he did. Ordinarily, by the last week in January the pipeline begins making sounds of the kind a soda straw makes when it has just about drained the glass. But this year the gurgle is both late and faint.
On Friday I told you that gifts from 20 groups were still unreported, and that today we would have a final report on them. However, 12 more arrived by Saturday night, all duly post-marked in January (in fact, three of them were postmarked twice in January by the Swift Couriers). So we'll have to defer the final accounting until tomorrow. Meanwhile, permit me to tell you about the first 20.
Christmas Eve caroling on Courthouse Drive in Fairfax brought in $4.85. Boy Scout Troop 100 was camping in the cold in the Catoctin Furnace area when a truck became stuck in the snow. Naturally, the young men did their good deed for the day, the truck driver insisted on giving them money ($5), and the $5 was sent to me for Children's Hospital.
Chapter 264 of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees sent me $5 in memory of a departed colleague. The Brownies of Troop 1643 (Vienna) made $19.23 for the hospital by singing Christmas carols. "They counted it three times before they got it right," the leader's letter explained.
Girl Scout Troop 862 (Alexandria) raised $21.50 when the girls paid for their own swimming party so that their treasury balance could go to the hospital. Boy Scout Troop 414 (Forestville) refrained from exchanging $25 worth of intramural holiday gifts. The men and women at the Franconia Cleaning Co. chipped in $25. A third $25 check arrived from the Myers & Hill realty unit in Dumfries together with the comment, "We're a new office. We'll do better next year."
No card exchange among members of the Field Operations division at Arbitron diverted $28 to the children. The nine-member Sixteenth Street Sewing Club of South Arlington stitched together a $35 worth kitty. There was no in-house holiday card exchange at Leiss Art Services, and that brought in $55 worth of help for a needy child.
As usual, one of the reporters in our Style Department baked up a big batch of Christmas cookies and brought them to work with her. Her colleagues in Style, in the newsroom, and especially in the composing room showered her with $70 for the hospital in exchange for the goodies.
Greenbelt Police Lodge No. 32 of the Fraternal Order of Police sent us into three-digit territory with $100. A first-time collection at Technassociates Inc. on K Street NW brought in a welcome $120 and the problem, "Next year we'll be better organized." The Arlington County Fire Department took up a collection that came to $128.10.
At Howard University, Physical Plant Department staffers rounded up $140 for the shoebox. The "Jym Noman Deserving Student Trust Fund" sent in a check for $200. The trust fund may be a spoof, but the check isn't. The people in the local office of Foster Associates Inc. refrained from sending each other $200 worth of holiday cards.
Members of Greenbelt American Legion Post 136 held an Appreciation Night for a man who had been post adjutant for more than 20 years, and presented him with a $500 purse. Can you guess what he did with the money? I thought so.
Biggest gift of the day came from Herndon in the form of a check for $1,000 from "The Closet Inc." I had to ask some questions before I found out that The Closet is actually a combination of about a half-dozen church groups plus service organizations such as FISH and LINK. People donate clothing and household items to The Closet, whose volunteer workers sell the contributed items at low prices and thereby raise money for good causes. If you have some clothing to give away, be advised that The Closet's address is 724 Lynn St., Herndon, Va. 22070.
As I tally it, these 20 groups have given the hospital $2,766.68. We began the day with the $200,359.80, so our semifinal count moves to $203,126.48. It should be safe to predict that tomorrow the pipeline will gurgle its last.