We are cutting it close, slicing it thin, leaving little margin for error. But better to be on the plus side of the ledger than on the minus side -- and plus is still where we (barely) are.

Our 1990-'91 fund-raising campaign on behalf of Children's Hospital is three-quarters complete. After a slow start, we have just turned in a far stronger middle. Now comes the stretch run, where the tale is told. Let's hope that "far stronger" will describe the next piece of the journey, too.

Here are the Week Six numbers:

Grand Total to Date: $409,001.95.

Grand Total at the Same Time Last Year: $406,796.40.

Total Given This Week: $99,306.75.

Individual Donations to Date: 3,475.

Group Donations to Date: 632.

As you can see, we are ahead of last year's sixth-week bottom line by a scant half a percent. What you can't see is that our total of individual donations is down considerably: from 3,746 at this stage a year ago to 3,475 today.

Individual donations have always been the cornerstone of our campaign. Is the cornerstone crumbling? Perhaps so, if the recession is as widespread as so many say.

But perhaps this is merely a momentary backslide. Perhaps the next time I head downstairs to the mailroom, my cubby will be stuffed with checks. It has happened before, at precisely this point in other campaigns, when all was starting to look bleak. It may happen again.

But it'll take your help. Our Children's Hospital campaign depends on contributions from Washingtonians just like you. You're not named Warbucks, but you root for the young people in this community and you know that this hospital has been healing kids from all walks of life for the last 121 years. So you kick in what you can.

We need that kick for 1990-'91, and we need it now. Remember that every cent goes to pay the medical bills of children whose families can't afford to do so. Remember that every child is treated regardless of race, creed, color, sex, Area Code and Zip Code. You will never write a more worthy check. Please write it today.


Make a check or money order payable to Children's Hospital and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071.