Letters, we get letters . . . . And at this time of year, many of those letters spell out why you readers contribute to our annual Send a Kid to Camp fund-raising campaign.

It's always fascinating to learn who's generous and what makes you that way. Might those reasons spur other reader donors? I wouldn't object, and neither would the 1,100 local children who hope to spend two weeks each in the Virginia countryside between now and mid-August.

Here are some recent whos and whys:

GOOD MEMORIES FROM CHILDHOOD: "When I was in elementary school and my parents had just divorced, my Girl Scout troop sent me to camp on a 'campership' funded by the sale of Girl Scout cookies," recalls Marjorie Harmon of Brookeville.

"I have since been a big supporter of Girl Scout cookies, but I figured that sending a {$25} check to you would be much easier on my waistline."

We'll take the bulge in our coffers instead, Marjorie. Many thanks.

MISSING CAMP: "This is the first summer in six years that I haven't been to camp as either a camper or a counselor," writes Carrie Laughlin of Northwest Washington. "I just graduated from college and don't have much money, but I think that camp in general is an important part of growing up today. I really miss it. Good luck on meeting your goal."

Thanks, Carrie. With gifts like yours, we won't need luck. We'll only need new tape for the adding machine. Any other recent college grads who've learned what it's all about as well as Carrie?

GOOD FORTUNE: A few days ago, Helen Russo of Arlington was driving with a friend when they had a flat tire. Helen called a tow truck, but before it arrived, "a young man pulled in front of us and offered to fix the flat. We were very appreciative but when he finished he would accept nothing for his help . . . . We felt so kind a deed should be recompensed."

So Helen sent our camping campaign a $40 check. Many thanks to her bashful tire-changer -- and the same to a woman who shares my concern for 1,100 underprivileged local kids.

ADULTS WHO NEVER WENT TO CAMP: Eleanor T. Coder of Rockville writes that she grew up during the Depression. Like so many fathers, hers was frequently unemployed in those days, so she never got to go to camp. "I can understand how tough it must be for kids crowded into projects to endure a hot Washington summer. Here is my {$15} summer 1990 contribution," Eleanor writes.

We're delighted to have it, Eleanor. It means all the more since it comes from a woman who knew tough times herself.

BUILDING GOOD HABITS: Another recent college graduate, Kara Morgan of Fairfax, says she doesn't make a whole lot of money either. At least not yet. But she sent me a $20 check just the same.

"It's my plan to get myself into this good habit now, so later, when I make real money, I'll look back and say, 'If I could give then, there's no excuse for not giving now,' " Kara writes.

Kara appended a homily she heard in church: "When you give from your excess, that's justice. When you give till it hurts, that's charity." We don't wish you pain, Kara. But those of us who've been in your shoes know what a pinch feels like. Thanks for showing true charity.

MIDYEAR LARGESSE: Great idea from Belinda R. Hodge of Rockville: "A lot of people get their annual raises in July {Belinda is one of them}. What if everyone sent in the difference between their old take-home pay and their new take-home pay for the first July paycheck they receive?"

Belinda took her own advice (about two weeks early) and fired me off a check for $20. Any July raise-getters who care to follow suit?

FORMER SMOKERS: The check was a goodie: $77.05. The reason was, in some ways, even better.

"I'm a recovering smoker," writes Dennis W. Moore of Northwest Washington, "and figure I would have blown this much on 'weeds' in the last two months."

I'm glad in two ways that you didn't, Dennis. I thank you. The camp-bound kids do, too.

BUSINESSWOMEN WITH A CONSCIENCE: It's a part-time business, which surely means that money isn't flooding in the door. But Terri Hudson, the head of Bear Mail in Woodbridge, sent our camp fund $10 nevertheless.

Terri calls her gift "small." Wrong, my friend. Even gifts of that size add up, quickly. Calling other businesspersons. Can't you spare what Terri spared, as an investment in our community?


Make a check or money order payable to Send a Kid to Camp, and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.

In hand as of June 26: $109,654.75.

Our goal: $275,000.