Voices in the Send a Kid to Camp crowd . . . .

CHARITABLE JOB, CHARITABLE RETIREMENT: This city is full of people like Ethel C. Anderson of Southeast Washington. She spent 30 years as an employee of Saint Elizabeths Hospital before retiring recently at the age of 55.

Working at a mental hospital can take it out of you, but Ethel says she "feels blessed because I was able to leave with my sanity intact." She wanted to share some of that blessedness with the needy kids in our annual Send a Kid to Camp program. So "even though I'm not wealthy," Ethel sent in a check for $25.

You helped the needy while you were working, Ethel, and you've helped the needy with your camp donation. Thanks for proving once more that even a relatively small donation can reflect a big heart.

DO STRANGERS CARE? YES, THEY DO: The timing of our annual campaign is always a bit iffy, what with graduations, weddings and other summer reasons to raid one's treasury. But Mary Patton of Alexandria found a spare $20 for Send a Kid to Camp just the same. She also found a good rationale for sending it along.

"It is needed for a reminder that those faceless people out there do care," Mary wrote.

Exactly, Mary. One of the most enduring pluses of this annual program is that so many Washingtonians who are comfortable help so many who aren't -- even though the former have never met the latter and probably never will.

Thanks to Mary for keeping that spirit alive, and for being so generous.

"A NICE GIRL" PROVES IT: If you or I had somehow failed to receive a copy of the yearbook after our freshman year in high school, we might have gone off into a royal stinking funk. Jean Stowell of Fairfax Station decided to contribute to our campaign instead.

She asked the pastor of her parish, Msgr. James McMurtrie, if she could buy the copy of the yearbook that was on display in the pastoral center of Paul VI High School in Fairfax. The monsignor said he would give it to her for nothing, "for being such a nice girl."

The story could have ended right there, and with most teenagers, it probably would have. But Jean contributed the $30 the yearbook would have cost to our campaign. "I really hope my donation helps," Jean wrote.

Did you say "nice girl," Monsignor? How about super girl?

THOSE FORGOTTEN AUNTS AND UNCLES: When Julie Simmons of La Plata graduated from high school last month, checks descended. A few bucks from this relative. A few more from that. Julie calls her benefactors "those aunts and uncles that you tend to forget until it comes time to mail out graduation announcements."

But Julie didn't forget our 1,100 camp-bound kids. She sent our campaign $10 of her aunt-and-uncle graduation money. She also asked a good question. "What if all the area graduates shared a few dollars out of their graduation gifts? What a difference that would make."

How about it, June grads?

CALLING ALL BEACH REVELERS: Send a Kid to Camp is a summer tradition around Washington. Another is for young adults to rent a group beach house at the Atlantic shore.

Gigi Perkinson has found a way to merge the two. She sent a $10 gift to Send a Kid to Camp "out of my beach house fund for the summer of '90." She also issued a challenge to all beach bunnies at Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach and Ocean City:

"Give up that extra drink at your favorite watering hole and instead put that money where it can really do some good!"

Nice notion, Gigi. Remember, you beach-ies: Lots of underprivileged kids in our community have never seen the glories of nature that you visit every weekend (Bay Bridge permitting). Let's help those kids discover that there's more to life than tough neighborhoods and clouded futures.

PARENTS WHO KNOW WHAT CAMP IS WORTH: Like so many parents, Barbara Dinsmore of Northwest Washington sent her kids to camp this summer "at great expense." But the reviews are starting to filter in, and they're excellent. Barbara's kids say they're "having a great time at their camp."

So Barbara sent $50 to help another child "feel the joy that my kids have each day."

"I hope that this contribution will enable some child to get out of the city, see the country and learn something new," Barbara wrote.

Well put. Worth emulating.


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 July 17: $183,271.47.

Our goal (Aug. 10): $275,000.