This is the day I clean off the desk, finish answering last week's mail and lay in a store of my beloved sugarless chewing gum. It's hunker-down time. Beginning Monday, this column will nearly double in size, but it will shrink greatly in scope. For the next nine weeks, we are going to conduct the annual campaign for Children's Hospital.

I say "we" because my part in this will be to ask for contributions, to acknowledge them as they arrive and to explain what the money buys.

Your part will be to give.

As always, your gifts will be appreciated. As never before, they are needed.

This will be the 33rd consecutive year in which The Washington Post has made space available on this page to the Children's Hospital campaign.

For the past two years, Scott Chase has been at the wheel, raising money for the hospital under the heading of "For Love of Children." Scott helped raise nearly half a million dollars.

In the decades before that, Bill Gold raised more than $1.5 million through The District Line. I'm delighted to take my place among such illustrious -- and successful -- company. As far as bottom lines go, I hope to do as well, or better.

Longtime contributors to and followers of the campaign will recognize that Nov. 16 is about two weeks earlier than it has begun in the past. Two reasons: the early start will get more money to Children's faster, and it will make December the major focus of the campaign rather than January.

If you don't understand that second one, close your eyes and remember how your bank balance always looks just after Christmas. Microscopic, right? Perhaps invisible. So I've decided to center the campaign around December, when both spirits and wallets are flush with holiday cheer.

More on Monday. Early birds who would like to write a check to Children's today are welcome to do so. Make it out to Children's Hospital, and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 20071.

For the rest of you, have a nice weekend. I'll be coming after you full force on Monday.