Today we find out whether or not the U.S. Navy can hold a lead. Last year they edged out our traditional top contributors, C&P Telephone Co. and AT&T. The competition for first place was tough.

We're shooting for more than $200,000 this year, so let's see how close the Navy can take us.

The Naval Ordnance Station's Standard Missile Project Division sent $10 remaining from their Christmas party. Navy Equipment Management sent $15, and the mailroom personnel added $17.50. A check for $19 came from NAVSWC White Oak. The Ladies Auxiliary, Unit 67 of the Fleet Reserve Association sent $25, and $30 came from the Navy Paint Shop. The Navy Records Branch FCU added $37, and NARDAC Code 3024 collected $40.

Members of the Capital City Branch 67 of the Fleet Reserve Association took a hint from their branch number and sent $67. The Naval Strategic Services Project gathered $71. The Naval Electronics Hardening Bramch chipped in $85. The "Joe Wasson Chapter" of the Naval Enlisted Reserve Association got $110.

Checks totaling $200 arrived from the folks of the Naval Military Sealift Command, and Navy DARCOM's Civilian Personel added $210. The Navy Regional Contracting Office forwarded $301, and Naval Publications and Printing employes anteed up $306. A $320 check equalled the profits from the Navy WPRD coffee mess.

The CAD/PAD Department of the Naval Ordnance Station in Indianhead, Md., added $370.50 to our annual Children's Hospital fund drive. A bake sale, a raffle and miscellaneous contributions from the Defense Printing Service at the Pentagon yielded $448.20 for needy children.

The Naval Regional Finance Center contributed $554.55. The Headquarters Naval Material Command family sent checks totaling $805.83 to me for the kids. Their generous gift was gathered by "30 talented and hardy carolers who sang their way through the offices and hearts of our employes." Many thanks!

Staffers of the Naval Electronics Systems Command added $901 to our annual Navy tally.

The incredible folks at the David W. Taylor Naval Ship Research and Development Center upped last year's contribution by $360, making their total this year $1,400. They began two years ago with a $98 gift. What a way to grow! Truly inspirational.

Sending money directly to Children's Hospital, with credit going to "For the Love of Children," were the fine people at the Naval Supply Systems Command, who collected $1,895, and the Naval Research Laboratories, who gathered $2,369.43. A round of heavy applause is in order for these fine sailors.

NAVSEA has done it again "for the love of children." At an office celebration ceremony commemorating the outstanding annual effort put forth by the folks at NAVSEA, a check for Children's Hospital of $5,600 was handed to me by the Commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command. The money was raised through individual contributions, office projects and an unbelieveable series of coffee messes and soda bars. Fantastic!

Finally, no journey with the Navy would be complete without logging in the annual voyage of the USS Miscellaneous. The 11 sailors on this ship are all retired Naval officers who remember just how much the Navy cares about children and want to add their dues to the annual Navy effort. The USS Miscellaneous set sail this year with $340. Anchors aweigh!

Can the Navy hold a lead? You bet they can! My calculator shows this year's total from the Navy to be an outstanding $16,548.01. The fierce competition for top contributor, traditionally waged between the Navy and Ma Bell, continues unabated.

Yesterday we closed the shoebox on $181,762.20 after listing the source of $14,767.75 in contributions from C&P and AT&T. Today's ballast from the Navy boosts our year-to-date figure to $198,320.21. We've really sailed in the past two days.

And our campaign has really recovered from the slow post-holiday pace that had me worrying if we'd break the $200,000 barrier. That milestone is now assured, because I have a heavy backlog of gifts from businesses, groups and employers as well as from hundreds of anonymous District Liners.

Those final contributions will be reported next Saturday, February 14.