Levey is standing in front of his house, waiting for a ride from a neighbor. It would be nice if his son, Alexander, age 16 months, were standing, too. But Allie doesn't stand anywhere, for anyone.
He romps left. He romps right. He picks up a stick. He throws the stick. He retrieves the stick. He starts to eat the stick.
Just as Levey is saving both the son and the stick from a bad end, a police car pulls up and stops. A policeman begins to get out.
This can't be good, Levey.
Is it the snowball you threw at the bus in the third grade? Are they finally coming to get you for that?
Is it the girl you spurned in the ninth grade? The one you promised to take to the dance, but dumped without so much as an apology? Has she finally charged you with false and misleading use of the English language?
Is it the time you were too lazy to put the lids back on the garbage cans? Real good, Ro-bare. Five to 10 at Leavenworth just because you wanted to get back to the football game before the commercials were over.
The officer walks up to me. He says hi to Allie. He asks if I have a minute.
Warily, I say I do.
He reaches for his wallet. He fishes out a $10 bill. He hands it to me.
"For Children's Hospital," he says. "And I wish you'd challenge other police officers to do the same."
Levey stands there, his mouth agape. The officer says hi to Allie again. He gets back in his car. He waves. He drives away.
No, Virginia, there is not a Santa Claus. But there's a police officer in my neighborhood who does a pretty good imitation.
Stop the presses. The Internal Revenue Service has a sense of humor.
One of its employes does, anyway. He's Joe McCaffrey, a worker bee in the IRS's Office of Tax Treaties. Here's what Joe wrote when he sent along that group's $135 contribution to our Children's Hospital campaign:
"This donation should really be made in the name of Ebenezer Scrooge, who, like us, just turned out to be another old softie in the end.
"In making this donation, we do have one concern -- that being the possibility that Tiny Tim took unfair advantage of Mr. Scrooge by pleading poverty. Since we have it on good authority that Tiny has several undeclared bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, we question his poverty plea.
"In any event, we have enclosed our donation. Merry Christmas and/or Bah Humbug."
Do not assume from the following story that Children's Hospital will always get you to the airport on time. But don't assume the hospital won't, either. It did for Kristie Miller of McLean.
"Eight years ago, I was about to leave for a three-year tour in Africa when my 9-month-old daughter pulled a cup of scalding coffee in her lap and suffered second-degree burns.
"Our plane was leaving in less than four hours. We raced over to Children's and were dismayed to find a long line at the emergency room entrance. But the staff realized that our screaming infant needed immediate care, and she was seen at once.
"They not only dressed her wounds, but they gave me a bagful of bandages, ointment and sterile water so I could take care of her during the six days we would be traveling to our new post.
"She healed with no scars. We even made the plane."
Kristie sent along a sizable check in memory of that memorable day. Her scarless daughter kicked in two bucks of her own.
Nice work, ladies, on behalf of a hospital that does nice work every day.
Two $10 donors have weighed in with phrases as well as checks.
Margaret Beecher of Arlington is like so many of you. Every year, she reads about the Children's campaign in Levey's column, and gets tugged in the direction of her checkbook. But there's never enough money in the account to answer the tugs. The dough is always earmarked for something else.
This year was no different. But Margaret took a look at her minuscule balance and decided to help sick kids anyway.
"Virginia Power will just have to wait a little longer," she declared.
Meanwhile, David M. Zak Jr. of Mount Rainier, a law student at Catholic University, hoped that his contribution would make Christmas "a little brighter for one of God's special children."
David urged his fellow students to contribute, too. He suggested they could find the money by doing without movies, beer and junk food.
"People," David said, "are more important than weekends."
Nicely said, you two. Let's hope there are others out there who find your words not only memorable, but inspiring.
Groups continue to surge forward with bucks. Here are the latest to do so for our annual fund-raising campaign:
The Lucy Ellen Moten Elementary School Family ($2,478.92 from this D.C. public school at Morris and Elvans Roads SE -- the best the Moten gang has ever done. Great work!).
Employes, Office of Leadership Analysis, Central Intelligence Agency ($482, most of it from the sixth annual Christmas bake sale).
Robin Dale Golf and Country Club Ladies Association ($380).
Women of the District Heights Presbyterian Church ($25).
The International Union of Operating Engineers, the Operative Plasterers' and Cement Masons' International Association of the U.S. and Canada and the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers ($375 raised at a joint Christmas Fairyland party).
Mrs. R.C. Watson and her 16 kindergarteners at Bunker Hill Elementary School in Northeast ($21).
Customers, employes and owners of Sosnik's Liquors in Northeast ($360).
The Star Point Society, Hope Chapter No. 73, Order of the Eastern Star, Fairfax ($25).
Intercessory Prayer Group of United Methodist Church, Northwest ($80).
No Name Club Inc. ($50).
"The Friends of Catherine Halloran" ($115).
Office of Academic Affairs, George Washington University Medical School ($97).
Building 17 Coffee Club at David Taylor Research Center ($153.60, which represents a penny for each cup of coffee consumed in the last year).
Engineering Division, Export-Import Bank ($50 instead of exchanging Christmas cards).
Ashlawn Citizens Association ($75).
Stallings-Williams Post No. 206, The American Legion, Chesapeake Beach, Md. ($200).
Receipt Inspection Branch (Code 3230), Test and Evaluation Department, Naval Ordnance Station, Indian Head ($500).
A wonderful showing! Thanks to all. TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAMPAIGN:
Make a check or money order payable to Children's Hospital and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071.