Down comes the curtain on our 1987-88 Children's Hospital fund-raising campaign. Did we set the record we were hoping to set?

You'll find out at least provisionally in tomorrow's column, in which we'll publish semifinal totals. Final-final totals will appear next Tuesday.

In the meantime, let's pay tribute to the groups that have contributed in recent days:

Employees, Pool Management Service, Rockville ($100).

The youth of St. Bernadette's, St. Michael's Nativity and Holy Spirit ($450 raised at a dance).

Employees of the American Association of University Women (a well-educated $1,967.07 collected during a holiday party).

Employees of The Naval Sea Systems Command, Crystal City (a seaworthy $1,735).

The Cat's Meow ($40).

Publishing Division, Directorate of Information Management and Administration, Department of the Air Force ($201 from a holiday raffle).

The Farmhouse Staff at Washington International School ($15).

Employees of Flight Standards, Federal Aviation Administration ($570.50, and a large hoorah to this gang for 25 consecutive years of giving to help sick kids).

Office of the Associated Managing Director for Information Management, FCC ($925, with applause to these folks for making a donation for 12 years in a row).

Office of Language Services, State Department ($933, and multilingual cheers to this bunch for contributing for 15 consecutive years).

Customers and employees, Arlington Electronics Wholesalers ($216).

Employees of the American Podiatric Medical Association, Bethesda ($339.55).

Employees of the National Automobile Dealers Association, McLean ($1,135).

Calvert Manor Garden Club, Accokeek ($25).

Partners and staff, Fisher & Walcek, Marlow Heights ($67).

Board of directors, Touch Toys ($25).

Rosemary Piercy's 7th-period trigonometry class at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School ($10.51).

VIP Systems Inc., Alexandria ($323).

Congressional Record Index Office ($95).

Staff members, National Coal Association ($195).

Employees in the SDAA/SDAE Branches, DMAHTC I ($300).

The schoolchildren of Mockingbird Drive ($153.02).

Finance Department, City of Falls Church ($48).

Tuesday A.M. Ladies Bowling Team ($25.75).

Jensen Manufacturing Company Inc., Alexandria ($360, half from the employees, half from the company).

Account Adjustment Department of the Loan Servicing Center, Virginia Division, Sallie Mae ($43).

N&T Buyers, Hyattsville ($750).

Cushman, Darby & Cushman ($841).

Employees of the Air Line Pilots Association, Herndon ($705.50).

Teamsters Union Local 639 ($2,500 raised at the annual golf tournament).

Wonder Graphics ($25).

Mrs. Grove's, Ms. Foulk-Libby's and Mrs. Niles' third graders, Mary Walter School, Fauquier County ($86.80).

Robert Lee Stevens Memorial Foundation Inc. ($50).

West Lanham Hills Citizens' Association Inc. ($93 raised at the annual dinner-dance).

Lady "M" Boutique, Alexandria ($25).

Marianne Demetral Smith's State Department and United Church Jazzercise classes ($100).

Sears Contract Sales Office, Bethesda ($407 in honor of manager Joe Spry and assistant manager Ken Moura).

Bethesda Area Laker Lovers ($35).

Inter-American Defense College, Fort McNair ($190 donated during the annual Christmas party).

Program Planning and Review Staff, Internal Revenue Service ($305).

The staff, International Petroleum Association of America and The Jefferson Energy Foundation ($255).

Hyatt & Rhoads, P.C. ($500).

Coffee drinkers in AEG & PAD ($75).

Highball Mixed Bowling League, which rolls at the Alexandria Bowling Center ($92.50).

Retirement Division, Central Intelligence Agency ($145).

The FanSong Music Group, Arlington ($25).

Management, staff and customers, Gotta Dance!, Wheaton ($40).

Employees of Custom Crafters Inc., Kensington ($100).

Management and staff, Logistics Systems Branch, Systems Division, Deputy Chief of Staff for Information Management, U.S. Army Materiel Command ($30).

Falls Church office, Adcom Inc. ($25).

Staff, Rose Hill Elementary School, Alexandria ($100).

The Rat Mass at VMI ($88.32).

First American Training, Virginia Office ($11 raised by charging a penny for each four-letter word uttered during the course of the year).

Huntemann-Huff Post No. 110 Inc., The American Legion, Mount Rainier ($100 in memory of Billy Townsend).

Junior and primary classes, Rose Hill Baptist Church, Alexandria ($100).

Headquarters, Defense Contract Audit Agency, Cameron Station ($205 raised during a gag gift auction at the Christmas luncheon).

Wakefield Woman's Club ($15).

Washington Irish Rugby Football Club ($50).

Lorton American Legion Unit 162 ($25).

The staff, Office of Computer Services, Gallaudet University ($330, and welcome aboard for the fourth straight year).

The staff, Kenilworth Elementary School, Bowie ($200 in lieu of exchanging gifts during the holiday season).

That is an absolutely marvelous showing -- not just because so many "old friends" have joined us once again, but because the majority of the group gifts you see listed above are from "new friends."

The Johnny-give-latelies are critical to the success of this campaign each year, because of the nature of this little global village of ours.

About 10 percent of the population in the Washington area turns over each year. That means that many of the groups that have made it a habit to contribute to the Children's campaign lose their impetus, or their existence.

Perhaps the fund-raising kingpin fell in love and moved to Oshkosh. Perhaps the company went out of business. Perhaps good old Dynamomics Technatronics merged with Technatronics Dynamomics. Perhaps everyone who used to give big bucks in a certain federal agency has retired and moved to Florida.

Whatever the reason, it never takes much to turn a group donor into a former group donor.

So, if we are going to improve on last year's total -- which is our goal each year -- we need to reach the hearts and checkbooks of groups that have never given before.

This year, we have done that unusually well. The final total of group donors is still being tallied as I write this. But throughout the campaign, the total of group donors has been running well ahead of any previous year. The reason has been new blood.

Whether your group is new to the Children's campaign or old, please know how much of a difference you have made, and how much your gifts are appreciated.

It's great to see that those who have been around a while know the value of Children's Hospital. It's equally great to see that short-timers are learning the same lesson.