Choosing a charity to support this December

Every year our family chooses a charity to donate to instead of giving each other more "stuff."

This year it is my turn to choose, and I am having a hard time finding a useful legitimate charity to donate to. I am interested in a group that is involved on local fronts as well as global, I want the money to go towards what they say it will and I would love for it to be less widely known (not Salvation Army or Toys for Tots — while they are great I would love to donate towards a smaller charity).

Do you have any ideas or a good place to start looking?