Recession? What recession? Our annual holiday-season fund-raising drive on behalf of Children's Hospital isn't receding in the least. At the midpoint of our eight-week 1990-'91 campaign, we are slightly ahead of last year's four-week bottom line.

The exact figures:

Grand Total to Date: $178,578.23.

Grand Total at the Same Time Last Year: $169,903.97.

Total Given This Week: $79,455.42.

Individual Donations to Date: 1,678.

Group Donations to Date: 309.

As you can see, our grand total is ahead of last year's by about 4 percent. If we can still say that when the campaign ends on Jan. 18, we will have a final total of about $585,000. That'll be the best one-year sum we've ever managed.

But a good first half doesn't guarantee a good second half. In fact, it may augur just the opposite.

Are the checks we've already gotten "old money" -- funds we would have gotten anyway, later in the campaign? Or are the checks "new money" -- from individuals and groups who have never contributed before?

There's no way to tell for sure, although my nose and the cover letters accompanying some checks say "new." If so, my heart would be cheered, since we'd be pointing solidly in the right direction.

But we still have many dollars to go if we hope to exceed last year's record final total of $562,000. So, as Christmas week approaches, please take a moment to send a contribution.

I realize that, thanks to Christmas shopping, your checking account may be moaning more than usual. But even the smallest contribution does our bottom line good. And every dollar goes where Children's dollars have always gone: to pay the medical bills of kids whose families can't afford to.

Our only goal each year is to do better for Children's than we did the previous year. We're in position to do exactly that this time around. But we won't do it without your help.

Please help sick kids get better. Please help this wonderful hospital continue to treat every child, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, Area Code or Zip Code. The kids, and the former kid typing this, are counting on you.

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.