I'm a strong proponent of helping people work their way out of poverty. In my view, handout charity is worthless for long-lasting change.
As such, I'm a big fan of Real Change Newspaper, a Seattle organization that helps 200 homeless vendors out of poverty. The vendors buy the papers for 35 cents and sell them for a dollar, keeping all the profits. The paper itself has improved consistently over the years, with good articles and a unique editorial view, certainly different from the mainstream press. I buy a paper from a vendor whenever I can, even if the paper is a little old.
This program combines my key elements of a good program: it's work based, it offers value to the contributor, and the contributor voluntarily chooses to participate. Handouts, tax-based programs, and straight donations don't meet these goals.
I don't always agree with the paper, but I heartily support their goals of giving people a hand up, not a hand out (yes, cute turn of phrase.) I strongly encourage you to buy a paper when you can too.