One of my friends in the Sports department of The Washington Post asked me yesterday how our annual fund-raising campaign to help provide money for the medical treatment of needy children at Children's Hospital was faring this year.

He probably wondered why he bothered when I assaulted him with the grim statistics that show us to be about $15,000 behind last year's pace. As he was asking me how I remember all these facts and figures, I could see the light go on upstairs behind his dark sunglasses.

"There are no football games on television this weekend," he said. "And nothing to bet on. Why don't you challenge our Washington sports fans to toss a little of that weekend betting money your way? They could hold a contest through your column."

Well, I'm always open to ideas and never one to underestimate the power of suggestion. So, sports fans, gather your betting partners and make a collection for Children's Hospital. It's a sure-thing guaranteed bet that you can't lose. I'll be waiting, pen in hand, to report the results.

In the meantime, there are a few group gifts that deserve the brand of recognition we deliver through "For the Love of Children."

Two checks totaling $15 arrived from members of Southern Railway Co.'s Law Department. They already sent in $210 in late December, so their year-to-date figure is now $225.

"We are a group of friends who gather at one of our homes each year to celebrate the New Year," wrote some folks from Alexandria. "This year 14 of us gathered and on the spur of the moment, some of us decided to put a bucket on the bar marked 'Children's Hospital.' We thought we'd only collect a few dollars, but when we tallied up we found $64.87 had been dropped into the bucket.

"We've decided to leave the bucket on the bar for all future parties," they concluded proudly.

Next week I hope to receive dcozens of letters beginning, "We are a group of friends who gather to watch and bet on Sunday TV football. Last week, however . . ."

Checks worth $110.05 arrived from the stafff of the Editorial Control Division, Publications Directorate, The Adjutant General's Office, Department of the Army.

For the past two decades, Tele Sec employes have been participating in the Children's Hospital charity drive. This year they collected $155. Tele Sec also made a corporate contribution of $500 for a total Tele Sec contribution of $655 this year.

The 9th annual Cookie Orgy, traditionally held on the fifth floor of The Washington Post, once again paid off handsomely for the youthful patients at Children's Hospital. Style staffers and others clever with the oven bake up hundreds of cookies which are then "sold" for the hospital. This year $115 worth were consumed "mostly" by the Style section, another $160 worth disappeared into the hungry mouths of fourth floor composing room workers, and $25 came from "a non-Post friend" for a grand total of $300.

Employes of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decided again this year to "contribute to the fine work being done at Children's Hospital in lieu of exchanging Christmas cards." They sent $500 a few weeks ago and followed up with an additional $110 this morning for a total of $610.

The six groups mentioned above sent a combined total of $1,254.92, to which four anonymous District Liners added $70 for a daily figure of $1,324.92. Inasmuch as the shoebox held $137,847.19, it stands to reason that it holds $139,172.11 now.

A lot of people unconsciously put things like Children's Hospital out of their minds until disaster strikes and the need becomes real. The funds we raise through "For the Love of Children" are used solely to provide free or low cost medical care for the needy children of the area. However, everyone benefits from contributions to the free care fund because each donated dollar eases the strain on other functions of the hospital. Our money makes sure Children's Hospital remains one of the foremost pediatric facilities in the nation.

If you want to join the thousands who have alrady helped the "hospital with a heart," 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. Football fans, don't forget to bet on Children's Hospital.