We could have broken the old record yesterday if we had included the telephone company's gift from northern Virginia. But District Liners don't cut corners or take what isn't theirs. I just mentioned it.

Besides, if not "For the Love of Children," what better place to send a contribution than to good old Frank and Jackson? They gave me enough credit on their radio show. One contribution earlier this year came from a reader who said: "I've heard Tom Gauger brag about you so much I decided to send my donation to you instead of WMAL Radio."

I never heard a mention, but thanks a lot, anyway. Maybe I'm not a good listener (or didn't listen long enough.)

If the pipeline will just cough up another several hundred dollars, we'll be in the clear on our own.

That's the way I want to make it.

We'll keep that three-decade old golden tradition alive, and help it start its fourth decade. This was (and will be) a very tough year for fund-raisers. But Bill assured me that all of you would pull together to make my first foray into the money-collecting world a smashing success. You did. It was.

The pipeline is definitely slowing down. But we still have a good handful of letters to record. A total of 46 District Liners hopped down to their local mailboxes on or by Jan. 31 and sent me letters containing support, advice, and, most importantly, contributions to Children's Hospital.

These "anonymous" individuals contributed a total of $1,377.50. That right there should have us over Bill's former record. Notice I'm already saying "former." Success rapidly goes to one's head, I hear.

"If it hadn't been for those comic strips next to your column you'd have never made it," commented one of our super-supportive editors.

Well, to all District Liners, The Washington Post, Snuffy Smith, Crock, and especially to Bill Gold and my friends at Children's Hospital, let me express my heartfelt thanks. Without any one of you, this year's drive for Children's Hospital would have been less of a success, if not just plain impossible.

Anyway, we have to get back to the business at hand. There's still a few days left to gather up and report the final fruits of the pipeline. Today we have late responses from several organizations and "informal groups."

A fellow Post employee missed the traditional 4th floor cookies but she still raised $12.50 during a "week of impromptu used book sales" in the ladies lounge by the Composing Room. "Maybe the books will be organized next year," she wrote.

A young gourmet chef at the Engineering and Acquisition Branch, Usa MERADCOM, at Fort Belvoir, baked a "'Herman cake' (uses a sourdough starter and takes ten days to go through a complete cycle before baking)" and sold slices at her office for Children's Hospital. Some colleagues just made donations and stayed away from "fattening Herman." She collected $15.60 from some hungry coworkers.

I'd never pass up a slice of a cake that takes 10 days just to get started.

A check for $18.63 arrived with this message: "The enclosed check is from the Diamonds and Rubies 4-H Club in Columbia, Maryland."

Another letter read: "Please accept this donation of $20 for your hospital on behalf of the Pangean Peoples Liberation Army." The writer signed himself "minister of war" and concluded,"Sorry, Scott, but Bill Gold would have had this check by Christmas. He's an expert conscience tweaker."

I never made any claim to be anything but the protege of a truly great man. It will take years to reach the level of expertise Bill Gold displays in everything he does.

A check for $23 contained $11.50 raised by students of Section 7-210 at Backus Junior High School and the same amount in matching funds donated by their teacher.

Members of the Marine Officers' Wives Club made a $25 contribution to the "Children's Hospital, Burn Unit." Their gift was made in the name of the "Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, who are recuperating in the Burn Unit of the Brooks Army Hospital, San Antonio, Texas." I join them in wishing these men a speedy recovery.

"The Internal Affairs Division of the Metropolitan Police Department wishes to donate the enclosed $32 to Children's Hospital," wrote a sergeant there. The money was raised in lieu of card exchanges at Christmas.

A check for $50 was sent by the members of Myer's Memorial Bible Class of the Riverdale Presbyterian Church in Hyattsville.

Top honors today go to the employees of the British Embassy. They collected $250 this year, and have supported Bill's annual campaign for several years. We'll hear from them again next year. Many Thanks.

These nine groups raised a total of $436.73. Combining this with the $1,377.50 from 46 District Liners yields a daily total of $1,814.23. Added to the $222,155.47 already in the shoebox gives us a new total of $223,969.70.

That's a record, folks. Thank you!