"I was one of those folks who read your column every day last year during your Children's Hospital campaign and said, 'Gee, I should send a check,'" writes Kathy Thomas of Reston. " But what with one thing and another, you never received that check last year.

"So what makes me send it this year? Right now I'm sitting at the kitchen table, watching my six-month-old daughter Kelley's first attempts at crawling. Needless to say, her presence this year makes all the difference between action and inaction.

" . . . I can't bear the thought of a child having to suffer with a serious injury or illness. It seems that my thinking takes on a 'What if it was Kelley' mentality. It's good to know Children's will be around for all kids, and if Kelley needs it, it'll be around for her, too.

"P.S. Here's ten dollars, plus the ten I didn't send last year."

Memo to Kelley: you've got yourself a heck of a Mom.

There are some drawers at home I won't even attempt to enter, because I couldn't if I wanted to. They are stuffed with exotic coins from exotic foreign countries: big brass ones, little silvery ones, the whole gamut. And until now, I had thought they would remain in the drawer forever. After all, no U.S. bank will exchange any foreign currency except bills, and few foreign exchange specialists want to bother with three pocketfuls of coins that turn out to be worth $3.39.

Relief is on the horizon, however, for all pence-pinchers and kroner-keepers. Ruesch International, a downtown foreign exchange company, has offered to exchange any amount of freely traded foreign currency -- including coins -- into U.S. dollars, and give all the proceeds to Children's Hospital.

What's in it for you, except for a suddenly liberated drawer? A gold bar, if you're lucky.

When you bring in your coins, Ruesch will give you a numbered receipt. For each of five days in February, two receipts will be drawn. Each of the 10 winners will receive a one-gram Credit Suisse gold bar.

However, one of the 10 winners will receive a one-ounce bar. It would be worth about $500 today. In February? Who knows? That's what makes a horse race.

Anyway, your drawers can use the help, and so can Children's. Coins may be brought to Ruesch during normal business hours at 1140 19th St. NW. For further information, phone 887-0990.

There's always a new way to find money for Children's.

Estellita Hart of Falls Church sent in a check that "represents the cost of electricity saved when we turn off the TV at halftime during the Redskins' games, and my appreciation of the no-mail nature of your appeal . . . I still harbor a strong resentment against those organizations that use a large portion of my contributions for repeated mailings."

As Estellita notes, I have an advantage. The Post isn't delivered by mail, and it isn't about to be. Still, she makes a point that I have been meaning to emphasize.

When you give to Children's Hospital, every cent of your contribution goes to patient care, and to nothing but patient care.

They don't spend the money on fancy carpets or prime-rib receptions or January junkets to Jamaica. The money goes to help sick kids, period. You always get a buck's worth of bang.

Most of the checks we write are devoid of emotion. But when Bonnie J. Alvarez of McLean paid $25 to the order of Children's recently, she saw it as "one way to alleviate some of my frustration.

"You see, I just graduated in June from Harvard University with a B.A. in psychology and social relations, and my specialty is child development . . . . Unfortunately, I cannot afford to work in the area of child development at this time. After calling available day-care jobs, etc., I found that although I was qualified, the jobs would pay less than half of what I could make using my typing and writing skills in a totally unrelated field.

" . . . So here is one way in which I can serve children."

Thank you, Bonnie. When a donation means a lot to a donor like you, it means just as much to the hospital.

Recent arrivals from the world of groups and organizations:

* $70 from the Ex-Communicators Bridge Group of Northern Virginia, the third year in a row in which these wives of retired Air Force communications officers have made a donation. Always good to hear from my fellow bridgies.

* $20 from the "Cheer Fund" of the Ladies of Ruth Circle of Luther Place Church.

* $30 from Brownie Troop 306 of Culpeper, Va. Leader Bev Thompson writes that her group was hunting around for a service project, and chose Children's unanimously after reading about it in Bob Levey's Washington. Appreciate it, ladies of 306.

* $165 from the Skyline House Unit Owners' Association Inc. over in Falls Church, which raised the money at a Thank God It's Friday cocktail party.

* $50 from the Woman's Club of Lyon Village in Arlington, which was raised by members who cater wedding receptions for the benefit of local charities.

* And $25 from the Star Point Society, Hope Chapter 73, OES, of Fairfax.

Many thanks, one and 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.