Tis the day after Christmas, and the shoebox holds $47,993.37. Last year on this date, we had collected $62,567.46.Let's see if we can catch up this morning.

The mail pipeline put in a little holiday overtime, disgorging 67 letters from private individuals containing $2,878 even. That bit of help puts us over the $50,000 mark, always a barrier to be broken.

The single largest personal check, for $500, was composed by a sensitive young woman who wanted to praise her mother through a gift to the free care fund. She wrote:

"This check is in proud honor of my Mother. She is quite a lady." The writer went on to describe the pains and pleasures her mother encountered while raising a brood that eventually grew to include nine children, and concluded with a warning that next year I'll read about her "adopted" (step) father.

I can hardly wait!

On the organizational and group front, another $20 arrived from folks who attended the Harry J. Ginter, Associates, Tantallon Christmas party. That party alone raised over $4,250 to help Children's Hospital give needy children free medical treatment.

Employes of the Asset Protection Department at IBM in Gaithersburg responded once again, sending $24.

Two checks for $40 survived the pipeline, one from the Ladies Friendship Bowling League in Falls Church, the other from the Resident Council of Manor Care Largo.

Manor Care is a well-known area nursing home concern. The residents raised their contribution through bake sales and two bazaars.

"At this time of year our nursing home residents receive many expressions of love and attention from the surrounding community," wrote the Council's recreation director. "They feel it is also good to be able to give and help others grow strong and well through the gift of their money raised by their labors of love and concern."

Two checks also arrived for $50. One came from "the Marines and civilians at the Training/Audiovisual Support Center, Marine Corps Development and Education Command," the other from the more-simply named Training Support Division, Office of Training and Education at the CIA, fondly known to Bill and I as the Child Improvement Agency.

Checks totaling $55 were collected by "the ladies of the U.s. Army, TAGO Wives' Bowling League," and the Fort McNair Golf Club sent $65. A candy jar fund maintained by employes of the Army Staff Civilian Personnel Office yielded $67.

More friends from the Census Bureau, those in the Economic Surveys Division, collected $75 for Children's in lieu of exchanging Christmas cards. Using an unspecified method, employes of the Program of Social Development at the Organization of American States raised $79.

Students in three classes at Rogers Heights Elementary School in Bladensburg set up a haunted house back at Halloween for the younger students. The admission charge was gathered up for Children's Hospital, and the school's P.T.A. matched their gift, resulting in a check for $140.

"The World Bank, friends on the 4th floor, 'L' Building, again this year send greetings and love to all the children at Children's Hospital," read an unsigned card with $200 in checks.

The English Studies Division of Prince George's Community College once again came through for the kids, this year contributing $235, "a 35 percent increase over last year." I'll tell you, we need it!

A new senior vice president at The Braedon Companies expressed his appreciation to his staff members for an easy entry into the firm's "family" by sending the hospital a check for $300. That's a great idea.

As noted, 67 individuals sent $2,878. A total of $1,440 also came in from 15 area groups. The two together equal $4,318. Inasmuch as the shoebox held $47,993.37 on Christmas morning, it must now contain $52,311.37.

Can you believe it? We're almost exactly $10,000 behind last year's pace. Everyone then said, "This will be a bad year," and we still ended up breaking records. I just don't think this year is "even worse."

Please, help us get the shoebox some nice new lining. Send your tax-deductible check, made payable to Children's Hospital, to: Scott Chase, c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

Don't forget the children!