It often happens that friends and colleagues ask me how our annual fund-raiser for Children's Hospital is faring thus far.

Unhappily, as we close our fifth week of trying to help the hospital meet the expenses of providing free or low-cost medical care for needy children, the report is gloomy.

Yesterday my sister asked that same question as we had lunch together not too far from my mailbox. I reminded her that the drive still has almost a full month to go, but our mid-term figure of $88,819.48 was about $13,000 less than we had at this time last year.

"Doesn't everybody wait until the last moment?" she questioned.

"Well, yes, a lot do," I replied glumly before remembering the last minute torrents of mail from our famous pipeline. Somewhere I've heard that every dark cloud has a silver lining, and I hope it's true. If the pace doesn't pick up at least a little bit we'll need clouds with gold lining.

Another couple of weeks will have to pass before I start really nagging the folks within reach of The Washington Post. In the meantime, the letters currently reaching my attention should temporarily starve off another crop of prematurely gray hairs. Here they are:

"The Administrative Section, Wildlife Section, and Policy, Legislation & Special Litigation Division of the Land and Natural Resources Division, Department of Justice, joined forces for a Christmas party," wrote members of those offices.They collected $100 for Children's.

Employes of the Coast Guard Headquarters Accounting Division, old friends from way back when, gathered $131.81 from "voluntary contributions, the surplus coffee fund, and the surplus from our own Christmas party." Another group of repeaters, the co-workers of the Wage and Hour Division at the Labor Department, made contributions adding up to $213 in lieu of exchanging Christmas cards.

"Enclosed are checks totaling $245 from members of the Kiwanis Club of Falls Church, Va., for Children's Hospital Fund," wrote the chairman of the club's Support of Spiritual Aims Committee. Many thanks!

My own friends and colleagues in the accounting and payroll departments on the seventh floor of The Washington Post had their usual Christmas blast last week. The people up there really take pride in their decorating and baking for the party. When they invited me up, I felt like Christmas had arrived, and they topped it all off with a gift of $254.20 for the kids.

The civic-minded staff of the National Cable Television Association elected not to exchange greeting cards this year, and sent me the savings of $301. Once again, the "in lieu of" method comes through for Children's.

"Please find a sum of $611 to be donated to the Children's Hospital fund collected from the employes of McLean's System Development Corp.

Please pass this along to the hospital for us," read the letter from SDC.

It's nice to hear from them again.

For the fourth consecutive year the fine people at Presearch Inc. in Arlington "have donated monies usually spent on interoffice Christmas cards to your favorite charity, the Children's Hospital. And once again, our president agreed to match our contributions with company funds." Using that formula, they came up with $1,486! And, as usual, they created a beautiful giant-sized holiday card for the patients.

It was with great pleasure that I received an envelope from the friends and staff of the law offices of Martin P. Hoffman at Arlington. They passed a fishbowl at their Christmas party and, as a result of that action, the fishbowl was rewarded with $1,511.

"Kindly forward the money to the Hospital with a Heart," they wrote.

I will, of course, and with me I'll take the $2,386.40 contributed this morning by 79 anonymous individuals, and the $4,853.01 gathered by 9 area groups and offices. That means I'll be delivering today's total of $7,239.41 along with the $81,580.07 already in the shoebox, which now contains $88,819.48.

Don't wait until the last minute. Join the thousands of District Liners who have already done their part.

Please 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.

P.S.The annual Navy review is quickly approaching. Sailors, Keep those letters coming!