Today is the first day of the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah. Christmas is just around the corner. This is the time of year that people of all races and creeds join forces to battle the "built-in deficit" that is yearly feature of the budget of Children's Hospital.

Children's Hospital was incorporated more than 100 years ago to provide medical care to indigent children. The charter calls on the staff to deliver the best possible pediatric services available today.

Money is a question that is discussed after the immediate needs of the child are met. The accountants at Children's Hospital attempt to recover whatever funds they can, either through direct payment, insurance settlements, or other "third-party" sources. But no child is ever turned away because the parents cannot afford treatment.

This is the actual built-in deficit that District Liners combine each year to overcome. All funds collected through "For the Love of Children" are used to help offset the cost of providing free medical care to poor children. Without these annual drives, the hospital could not fulfill its obligations to needy children.

The pipeline today brought in another average bundle of mail.A total of 80 letters arrived, each containing a message of concern in the form of a contribution.

Ten of the letters were sent by organizations.

Leading off for the organizational contributors were the young people who attended Camp Tzeon, a Jewish summer camp. Children aged 5 to 10 met for two weeks of fellowship and fun last August. They held a car wash at Har Tzeon Synagogue, and sent the money to Children's Hospital. Their check for $18 comes from the most philanthropic of all contributors -- other children!

The demonimation of the check, $18, is especially meaningful for contributions of the Jewish faith. Every Hebrew letter has a numerical value. The eighth letter of the alphabet sysmbolizes life. Eight combined with ten equals 18, a traditional gift meaning to life.

Chores Truly of Bethesda, a small group that "comes in contact with children of various ages on a daily basis" sent a check for $20 "to a very worthy cause."

The members of the Lewisdale Citizens' Association voted again this year to "get into the act" and send a $50 gift to the hospital. They have been "acting" in a similar fashion for years.

Also remembering the patients at Children's Hospital were the memberes of the Rossmoor Woman's Club. They sent $50 and holiday greetings.

Agents and staff of the United Insurance Company of America, District 127, in Bladensburg chipped in $90 to the fund drive. That wouldn't buy very much insurance, but the amount of good it will do at Children's Hospital can't be measured in dollars.

"The employees of the Voucher Examination Section and the Payroll Section of the Government Printing Office took your (Bill's) suggestion again this year. Instead of exchanging Christmas cards, we took a collection for Children's Hospital," they wrote. The smart people there gathered $100.

Bill told District Liners years ago that this method was a winner. I ran through the proceeds an imaginary, small office could raise with this method right here last week. And now the good folks at GPO have once again proved that it works.

The guys and gals at the Olney, Md., office of Lewis and Silverman Realtors decided to make a contribution to Children's this year, and their combined effort was worth $100. They included an orginal poem honoring children, "The sole estate that's real." The gift they sent is pure poetry.

The trustees of the Jack and Irene Hayes Solomon Foundation voted a very generous Christmas gift of $200 for use by the concerned doctors and staff of Children's Hospital.

Employees of the Labor Department's Office of Program Management, in lieu of exchanging $232.63 worth of Christmas cards, felt "that the money represented by the cost of the cards could be better utilized by Children's Hospital." They'll get no argument from me on that point. Many thanks and a tip of the hat to the 49 colleagues who contributed.

Grabbing top honors for group donations today were the workers at Pyles Lumber Company in Camp Springs, Md. They forgot to mention how they raised the $300, but that's a small matter compared to the service it will help provide.

Our ten organizations contributed a total of $1,160.63 today. Together with the $1,720 sent by 70 very thoughtful District Liners, our total for the first day of Hanukkah comes to $2,880.63. Inasmuch as the shoebox held $14,386.11 yesterday, the cordless abacus tells me that our new total is $17,266.74.

District Liners Unite! Please get those checks in soon. There's no good reason to delay.