Utahns were generous with the needy this year, even if a few donations were just trash, Salvation Army officials say.

"We really feel that Salt Lake is a unique city . . . a giving city," said Maj. Bunny Lane of the Salvation Army. Having served with the army in many cities, including Las Vegas; Tucson, Ariz.; and Riverside, Calif., Lane thinks Salt Lakers are remarkably generous.The army's donations fell below last year's totals, said Lane, but compared to other communities, Salt Lake City still does more for the needy.

"The kettle drive is about even with last year. So far, we have had some donations of toys and groceries, but I would have to say we do not have the donations of last year," she said.

This year the army provided food baskets and toys for about 400 families, distributed gifts at 36 rest homes and gave about 2,200 coffee mugs filled with candy to inmates at the Utah State Prison.

The donations do include some clinkers, though. Worn-out, torn, filthy clothing, broken appliances and other useless items also come in with the usable secondhand and new items.

"I sometimes think this is a place for them to dump off things that are no good," said Maryann Montoya, volunteer at the Crossroads Thrift Store, 802 S. Sixth East. She said one donor brought in a box of what he described as "brand-new suits." When the box was opened, the suits were "just totaled."

The store received plenty of useful donations, though, in addition to the small percentage of trash that came in.

"Some people have come and donated cash money, $10 or $20 at a time. We have had really nice clean clothes, new toys, coloring books, dolls, little cars brought in," she said.

The Salt Lake Family Shelter, 210 S. 455 West, also received enough donations to meet the immediate holiday demand, said volunteer worker Lorna Wells. "We have a lot of gifts for children, food, clothing, things a family needs." The shelter has stopped taking clothing donations for now because storage space if full, she said.

Donations to the men's shelter in the same building seemed to be up from last year, said employee David Morgan. He thought the quality of the goods was, if anything, better than the rest of the year.

"This time of year most of the stuff we get is better than secondhand, it's used but clean."