"Dear Children's Hospital," began a letter from the fifth graders of Timber Lane Elementary School in nearby Falls Church, Va.

"We earned $25 to send to Children's Hospital by having an auction in our class and by contributing to our 'You Say-You Pay' fund. This is a special fund that helps us to remember not to use slang words or words not in the dictionary. If we say one of these words, we must pay one cent.

"We know the money will be used to help other children who need it."

Their gift was just one of three checks for $25 received this morning. Another $25 check arrived from the Production Control Staff, Office of Central Reference, CIA, or Child Improvement Agency, as it is fondly known to Bill and me. The third check came from the Army's Military Personnel Center Enlisted Personnel Actions Branch.

The staff of Data Use and Access Laboratories in Arlington sent $30.45. Employee Security Inc. of Adelphi, Md., added $32.75. A check for $35 represented a collection made by employes of the Blue Shield Regular and Special Claims Department of Group Hospital Inc.

Checks and cash totaling $40 -- "a late Christmas donation" -- arrived from the Defense Manpower Data Center in Alexandria. For the sixth year, employes of the Credit and Collection Departments of Hechinger Co. gathered money for Children's in lieu of exchanging Christmas cards. They collected $40.43. The children of William Paca Elementary School in Landover sent in a check for $42.45. A $45 check came in from the folks at the National Weather Service's Test and Evaluation Division in Sterling, Va.

Two checks for $50 cleared the mail pipeline this morning. One came from the Giles B. Cook Post No. 53 of the American Legion. They started their collection with a cuss-box, changed it to an appeal "without rationale" for Children's Hospital, and ended up with $50. This is their first year with our campaign. Welcome!

The other $50 gift was sent courtesy of the fine folks who graduated from Armstrong High School in 1931. They are celebrating their golden anniversary of that achievement this year, and also their fifth year of contributing to Children's.

The NOAA Committee for Women, an employe organization of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Rockville, chipped in $80 for needy patients.

Group gifts of $100 arrived from three different sources. The Greenbelt Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 32 Inc. anteed up their traditional check, as did the Network Computing Branch of the Goddard Space Flight Center. They joined Bill ten years ago with $46 and have been building it up ever since.

Also sending $100 was the Women's Auxiliary to the Metropolitan Washington Association of Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors Inc. They have also raised nearly $4,500 for special wheelchairs and equipment to aid children afflicted with brittle bone disease.

"Enclosed please fine the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics' annual contribution to Children's Hospital in the amount of $127," read a letter from our friends there. Chalking up their fifteenth year of participation in this fund-raiser were the Photographic Staff and Photo Services Department of the National Geographic Society. They saved $186 for the kids in lieu of exchanging Christmas cards.

For the eighth year in a row, the Division of Language Services at the Department of State (translators, interpreters, reporters and support personnel) was happy to report that their Children's Hospital campaign was very successful. They collected a fantantic $690!

The above gifts from 20 area groups and employers totaled $1,854.03 today. That amount was increased to $2,616.53 by the $762.50 sent in by 35 anonymous District Liners. Yesterday the shoebox held $146,809.44, and with today's offerings our year-to-date total moves to $149,425.97.

Help Children's Hospital National Medical Center continue to provide free or low cost health care to needy children. 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.

Don't forget the children. They rely on us for our support.