GOING FAST ARE those confusing days of alternating balm and bluster that seem to tease Washington before winter takes frigid command. While there may be comfort in the thought that the days are getting longer now, they aren't about to get much warmer over the weeks ahead. And while Good King Wenceslas might have been warmed by the sight of people gathering winter fuel, most of us today render small fortunes to have it delivered, piped in or wired up. There are many families here that cannot meet their heat payments, that do not qualify for government help or that have exhausted aid available to them. But thanks to generous people and businesses throughout Greater Washington, there is special help for them -- and still more could be provided.

In its first two years, the Washington Area Fuel Fund has raised over $1.28 million to help more than 18,000 people pay their heating bills. Much of the money comes from residents who have added contributions to their own utility-bill payments; perhaps you have noticed a box on your monthly statement that can be marked if you wish to make a donation. Assistance goes to eligible recipients regardless of what fuel they use, and money is returned as these recipients become able to pay their delinquent bills. The fund was initiated by the Washington Gas Light Co., which has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars, and is administered by the Salvation Army.

More money would mean more help. Tax-deductible contributions may be made not only along with Washington Gas or Pepco bills, but also directly to Box 1999, Washington, D.C., 20013. In the homes to be helped, the Washington Area Fuel Fund is a comforting prospect. With strong support, this city's warmth can be felt even more than it has -- and that is a moving challenge.