"Let me explain this contribution," the letter began. "It is in honor of Alexandria's emergency ambulance and police personnel. My wife and I are long-time sponsors of Children's.

"On Sunday, December 16, she finished her neighborhood solicitation on behalf of Children's, filled out her tally sheet and made a check to cover the cash contributions she had collected. She intended to mail it the following morning, but she died in her sleep that night. I have since mailed the check.

"The young man and woman who drove the rescue ambulance that responded to my call for help arrived in minutes. A young police officer arrived almost simultaneously. Their professionalism, kindness and compassion imprinted an impression on my mind that warmed me even in my grief. They were grand.

"In gratitude for the fine service they render, please accept this $200 anonymous contribution in honor of Alexandria's fantastic rescue and police personnel."

It's hard to comment on this letter. It made me very sad to read it, but also glad. Glad that the writer would chose to remember his wife and the things that were important to her by sending a check to help the living and the needy. I'm sure she would have been pleased.

His check for $200 was the largest one received from an individual during last weekend. The pipeline yielded another 65 letters containing contributions. The total for all 66 was $2,003.10.

We can also report on a sprinkling of gifts from organizations and informal groups. Now that our fund drive is on the downhill slope, 15 letters a day from organizatons is pretty good.

The first one for today came from the Brownies of Silver Spring's Troop 1525. They earned their $5 gift by selling Girl Scout calendars. Leftover lunch money was the source of a $10 contribution from students in Room 121 of Hunt Valley Elementary School. A project to "earn money for Children's Hospital" brought in $12 from second and third graders at Fairland Elementary School.

Two groups that we've already heard from sent in what they called "late contributions." As I keep saying, there's no such thing as a late contribution, unless it's postmarked after Jan. 31. (And even those become early contributions -- for the following year's campaign.)

Anyway, the real estate wizards at Mike Casey Realty sent in another $14, bringing their total to $114. Two letters arrived from the kind folks of the System Sciences Division of Computer Sciences Corp. One letter contained $30, the other held $31. Our faithful friends wrote:

"Our total contribution this year has far exceeded that of previous years. I am proud of our employees' generosity." I am, too. Today's $61 brought their total to date to $2,307.

The fine car enthusiasts of the M.G. Car Club voted to send the children $33.69. A check for $50 was received from members of the Woman's Club of Lyon Village.

A teacher at Pine Ridge Elementary School (Fairfax County) asked students who wanted to buy her a present to send their $63 to Children's Hospital instead, and they did. A check for $65 arrived from the Prince George's County "floating faculty," an in-service team operating in the county's schools. A thick stack of checks totaling $219 came with this simple message: "Contributions from Wakefield High School faculty and staff."

Employees of the Smithsonian Science Information Exchange Inc. raised $226.85 for the hospital by not exchanging Christmas cards among themselves. Using the same method, members of the Reprographics Department at Vitro Laboratories gathered $275. This was their ninth annual gift.

Two groups at The Washington Post did it again, contributing $275 via an eight-year-old tradition. Each year, a Post staffer bakes cookies and brings them in to work. The cookies are consumed primarily by members of the Style section and the Composing Room. This year our baker made 27 varieties of cookies, or about 2,500 in all. Style staffers ate about $120 worth; members of the Composing Room were hungrier, eting $135 worth. The extra $20 came from "A (as in Anonymous) Friend." My thanks are hereby extended to the baker, the eaters, and the friend.

Still another "in lieu of" card exchange brought $464 to Children's from the fine crew at the Chamber of Commerce of the United States. Top honors for today were won by the Children and Youth Committee of Greenbelt American Legion Post No. 136, which raised $500 for the children. I can't think of a better endeavor for such a committee.

These 15 groups contributed a total of $2,273.54. Together with the $2,003.10 sent in by anonymous District Liners, today's total comes to $4,276.64. At the close of business last week we had $138,956.36, so now there is $143,233 in the trusty old shoebox. Let's keep it growing.