A note wrapped around a check in today's mail says, "I answer mail for a living, so I can sympathize with your present plight. Hence the brevity of this note. Season's greetings."

A letter with no check enclosed contains a passage that says, "During December, your secretary apparently screens out all the letters that are not about Children's Hospital.However, if this should by some chance come to your attention. . . "

Ho, ho, ho, you make big joke, lady. I have no secretary. I open all the letters myself, and I read every one of them.

Today we have a bumper crop, starting with $10 from Survey Design's employees. Unit W of the Clerical Services and Support Section of Social Security's Bureau of Hearings and Appeals refrained from exchanging $18.25 worth of intra-office gifts. Members of the Round-a Bits Round Dance Club (they meet at Dance Land on Sunday nights) chipped in $25.

The Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service got up a kitty of $32 for the children. A man who is retiring from the Patent and Trademark Office after 34 years of service will receive a card from Children's Hospital informing him that his colleagues chipped in $42 in his honor.

A $50 check is at hand from members of GSA Region 3 Transportation Services Division. Members of the Glenmont United Methodist Church Chancel Choir also raised $50. They decided to forgo an exchange of gifts among themselves.

Employees of the Social Development Program of the Organization of American States raised $60.77. The Office of Finance and Management of the Metropolitan Police Department sent the children $65 worth to help. No intramural exchange of greeting cards in the Joint Secretariat, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, produced a welcome $92.25 profit.

Augustus P. Gardner Post 18 of the American Legion sent me $100, and another $100 arrived because the staff at Massoni Associates passed up an in-house gift exchange. In the Office of Standard Reference Data of the National Bureau of Standards, no cards exchange netted $115.

The annual Christmas party held by the Chevy Chase Business and Professional Women's Club raised $141. No gift exchange in the Word Processing Unit of the IRS Training Division produced precisely the right words for Children's Hospital: "Enclosed please find checks totaling $150."

The idea of not exchanging intramural holiday cards has now spread to several units of the Defense Logistics Agency, with the result that Baltimore DCASMA, INDUSTIRAL SECURITY DIVISION, ALEXANDRIA BRANCH, VIRGINIA BRANCH AND WASHINGTON BRANCH TEAMED UP TO PRODUCE $163 WORTH OF CHECKS. I'M NOT SURE WHAT A DCASMA is, but I think the acronym stands for Defense Contract Administration Services Management Area.

Not Exchanging cards is old stuff in the Labor Department's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, and this year the plan netted a nifty $180 there. Several U.S. Court of Claims trial judges decided not to send each other $199.50 worth of holiday cards.

When the folks at Andrew V. Donnally & Associates sent me $50 for the children last year, they promised, "Next year we'll do better." They did. This year's contribution from them was $250.

At Tymshare/Dynatax in Springfield (formerly Autotax), not exchanging cards has been standard operating procedure for ages. Only the numbers are new: $392 this year.

For staff members of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences, this was the 12th consecutive year in which cards were not exchanged. The amount diverted to Children's Hospital this year was $489.50; the total for the 12 years: $4,527.50. Visualize how many needy children that money has helped in those dozen years.

When a thick package of checks arrived from Employees of the National Automobile Dealers Association and my cordless abacus said they totaled $622.15, I thought I knew where top honors for this day would go. But one of the last envelopes I opened was from employees of the Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville. Their envelope contained $900 worth of medical help for needy children, in large part because each year the company matches employee gifts.

As I figure it, these 23 groups contributed $4,247.42 and 92 individuals added $2,855.50 to bring today's receipts to an encouraging $7,102.92. Having begun the day with $29,636, we now have $36,738.92 in the shoebox, and business appears to be picking up. Halleulujah! It's about time.