Visits from a houseful of youngsters may remind some of you that this is the time of year during which we set our sights on eliminating the "built-in deficit" at Children's Hospital.
Many readers have strange and wonderful ways to remind themselves of the hospital's needs. And Bill and I are constantly amazed and delighted by the many ways you find to raise or put aside money for the hospital.
One novel method was recounted in a letter that contained a $25 check. "This represents one half of my 'cents off' coupon refunds for this year," explained the writer. "This is my way of trying to help the less fortunate."
Another District Liner sent $25 and blamed The Post's Style section for her contribution: "I read in Style that the 1960s will be making a fashion comeback in the 1980s. In order to get back in style, I'll have to grow more hair.
"So I am forgoing my twice-yearly haircut this season, and sending the cost of it to Children's Hospital. I get my hair cut at White Flint, which accounts for the size of the check."
Many District Liners have fond memories of Children's Hospital as an employer rather than as a healer. A check for $10 came from a woman who "years ago worked as a volunteer at the old Children's Hospital." A $25 contributor wrote, "The first job I ever had was as a nurse's aide at the old hospital. As they once helped me, I would like to help them."
Two letters arrived containing $15 checks and similar messages. One said, "We have nine healthy children ranging in age from four to fifteen, and would like to donate a dollar for every year we have not needed the facilities of Children's Hospital."
The other couple wrote, "We are fortunate to have a healthy, active 8-year-old daughter. And like many parents, there are times when we fail to count our blessings.
"We have never required the services of Children's Hospital, but it's a good feeling to know that such a place exists should the need ever arise."
The couple concluded their note with a Merry Christmas wish "to the patients and the dedicated staff at Children's Hospital."
A District Liner who was experiencing "writer's block" when she pulled out her checkbook made up for a lack of wit with a very generous contriubtion. She wrote, "Wish I could think of something clever to write, but all I can come up with is 'I want to help.'" Her check for $125 was one of the cleverest pieces of writing to come to my attention yesterday.
Today's mail brought gifts from seven organizations intent on helping Children's Hospital continue to provide medical services and health care to children whose parents cannot afford to pay.
Leading off was a check for $25 from the Thursday Ladies Bowlers, a group that does its thing at the Marlow Heights Fair Lanes. Another athletic organization, the Middle Atlantic Sporting Goods Association, with members "from Virginia to New York," passed the hat and gathered $50 for the hospital.
By voting not to exchange intramural holiday cards, The Riverdale Hills Women's Club raised $50 to battle the built-in deficit. The Mosby Woods Bridge Club got up a kitty that yielded $70 for the children.
Eight members of the Brightwood Investment Club combined to deliver $105 to our annual fund drive. The club was organized almost 21 years ago by some teachers and officers of the D.C. Public School System. Their letter really hit home.
"It has been our pleasure to invest each year in the future by making a small contribution to Children's Hospital. We feel that this is our most important investment -- It's a growth stock because Children's Hospital has continued to grow in size and in service to children. It also pays the highest dividends because it returns so much to the community."
Employees of the Treasurer's Office at the Southern Railway Company tried our no-intramural-cards idea for the first time last year. This year the amount saved by the plan, and diverted to help provide medical care for indigent children, was a healthy $130. Hearty good wishes were exchanged in person, face to face.
Using the same plan, employees of Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. gathered $265 for the children. Congratulations are due them for winning top honors in this, their eighth consecutive year of caring and sharing.
These seven groups combined to place $695 in the shoebox. The total from 55 individuals was $1,529. That included our single largest personal contribution to date, a check for $300. Taken together, our total for today is $2,224. Inasmuch as the shoebox held $9,709.11 at the close of business yesterday, it now contains 11,933.11.
Keep it coming, folks. Remember the wise comment of the Brightwood Investment Club: "This is our most valuable investment."