10 easy, legit ways to donate this holiday season

Story highlights

  • CNN Heroes offers easy, legit causes you can donate to with the click of a finger
  • You can make a direct donation to any Top 10 CNN Hero through their nonprofit.
  • Help them continue their extraordinary work.

(CNN)With so much trouble in the world, many of us are inspired at this time of year to do something to make things better.

Americans gave an estimated $358 billion to charity in 2014, according to the National Philanthropic Trust. Average household contribution: nearly $3,000. You might feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of choices of charitable organizations. They number more than 1.5 million in the United States alone.
But don't fret.
    CNN Heroes offers you 10 organizations started by everyday people who ended up doing some pretty extraordinary things.
    Here are quick details on each Top 10 CNN Hero and how to donate:

    Help homeless get medical treatment and housing

    Dr. Jim Withers used to walk the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, dressed like a homeless person, rubbing dirt in his hair and muddying up his clothes. He would search for those who needed medical attention who might be too suspicious of him otherwise.
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    It was important for Withers to connect with people who wouldn't seek him out. Instead, he reached out to them, eventually winning their trust.
    For more than 20 years Withers has taken his medical practice to the streets -- offering the homeless free, quality health care.
    "I was actually really shocked how ill people were on the street," Withers said. "Young, old, people with mental illness, runaway kids, women (who) fled domestic violence, veterans. And they all have their own story."
    Withers' one-man mission became a citywide program called Operation Safety Net. Since 1992, the group has reached more than 10,000 individuals and helped more than 1,200 of them transition into housing.
    He also started the Street Medicine Institute, a nonprofit that helps communities worldwide establish programs of their own.
    CNN Top Ten Hero Dr. Jim Withers
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    CNN Top Ten Hero Dr. Jim Withers 01:51

    Help rescue and rehabilitate wild animals

    Monique Pool has dedicated herself to helping wild animals in the South American country of Suriname. Pool has rescued, rehabilitated and released hundreds of sloths and other mammals back to the rainforest.
    It started in 2005, when Pool's dog went missing. During her search, she called the Animal Protection Society and learned that a baby sloth had been orphaned. Pool offered to take it in.
    "I didn't know anything about sloths, but I learned a lot," said Pool, who sought advice from international experts on how to care for the animals.
    Today, Pool's nonprofit, Green Heritage Fund Suriname, helps protect sloths and implement other conservation efforts in the country. Her home serves as a temporary sanctuary for the mammals, and she is now a recognized local authority on them. Her work has earned her the nickname "The Sloth Lady."
    CNN Top Ten Hero Monique Pool
    CNN Top Ten Hero Monique Pool

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    CNN Top Ten Hero Monique Pool 01:48

    Help turn a 'food desert' into a healthier community

    In rural Conetoe, North Carolina, Richard Joyner has brought a bounty of food to what was a nutritional desert. Joyner, a local pastor, started a community garden after watching many of his parishioners die from preventable diseases. "Diabetes, high blood pressure -- when we first got started, we counted 30 funerals in one year," Joyner said.
    Today, his nonprofit, the Conetoe Family Life Center, manages more than 20 plots of land, including one 25-acre site. More than 80 local young people help him plant and harvest nearly 50,000 pounds of fresh food a year.
    Local residents receive some food for free, and students also raise scholarship money by selling the food to restaurants and grocery stores.
    The children also learn how to cook the food in nutritious ways, steering their families toward better choices at home. As a result, many people are now reaping the benefits of Joyner's ideas. Emergency room visits are down, and the community as a whole is healthier.
    CNN Top Ten Hero Richard Joyner
    CNN Top Ten Hero Richard Joyner

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    CNN Top Ten Hero Richard Joyner 01:49

    Help women and children in Nepal

    A New Jersey woman who saved her babysitting money has made a difference half a world away in Surkhet, Nepal.
    Ten years ago Maggie Doyne decided to backpack around the world before college.
    But during a stop in Nepal, her life took an unexpected turn. She met women and children who were struggling to survive the aftermath of a decadelong civil war.
    Doyne called her parents and asked them to wire her the $5,000 she had earned babysitting. She purchased land in Surkhet and worked with the local community to build the Kopila Valley Children's Home. Today, Kopila -- which means "flower bud" in Nepali -- is home to about 50 children, from infants to teenagers.
    In 2010, the group opened its Kopila Valley School, which today educates more than 350 students. Doyne's BlinkNow Foundation supports these efforts.
    CNN Top Ten Hero Maggie Doyne
    CNN Top Ten Hero Maggie Doyne

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    CNN Top Ten Hero Maggie Doyne 01:50

    Help veterans recover from the horror of combat

    Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran Sean Gobin's nonprofit, Warrior Hike, has a unique way to help combat vets process their troubling war experiences. Gobin calls it "walking off the war."
    The idea came during a 2012 hike along the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail. "Hiking eight hours a day, I was processing all of these experiences that I had put away," said the Charlottesville, Virginia, native. "And I knew that there were other combat veterans that needed to do that."
    Warrior Hike provides combat veterans with all the equipment and supplies they need to complete long-distance hikes throughout the country. Ranging from two to six months, these journeys give veterans a chance to connect with nature and work through their issues while enjoying the camaraderie and support of other war veterans.
    CNN Top Ten Hero Sean Gobin
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    CNN Top Ten Hero Sean Gobin 01:54

    Help bring life-giving water to people without it

    For CNN Hero Bhagwati Agrawal, it was a water crisis in his homeland that spurred him to act. His nonprofit, Sustainable Innovations, created a rainwater harvesting system that now provides life-changing, safe drinking water to more than 10,000 people across six villages in the driest region of India.
    California's record-breaking drought has made news, but in Rajasthan, water scarcity is a way of life. Women and children walk miles to get water, and they clean dishes with sand to avoid wasting water.
    Agrawal's system, called Aakash Ganga -- Hindi for "River from the Sky" -- is a network of rooftops, gutters, pipes and underground reservoirs that collect and store the monsoon rains, which fall from July to September.
    The system frees adults to spend time doing other valuable activities. Not having to fetch water allows children, especially girls, to spend more time in school. People report fewer health problems. Dairy cows have become twice as productive.
    "The way I look at it, I'm 70 years old," Agrawal told CNN. "I only have maybe 10 years left of active life. Right now I'm like Usain Bolt, the sprinter. ... And I will run very fast to accomplish this mission."
    CNN Top Ten Hero Bhagwati Agrawal
    CNN Top Ten Hero Bhagwati Agrawal

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    CNN Top Ten Hero Bhagwati Agrawal 01:49

    Help break the cycle of homelessness

    Kim Carter of San Bernardino, California, cycled in and out of incarceration and homelessness until she decided it was time for a change. Now her nonprofit, Time For Change, helps hundreds of women in similar circumstances reclaim their lives.
    The group provides housing, counseling and job training, as well as services to help women reunite with their children.
    "Homeless women and children -- I call them invisible people. We pretend that we don't see them," Carter said. "But I see them. And I know there's something we can do to help them."
    Since 2002, more than 800 women -- many of them formerly incarcerated -- have benefited from Carter's program.
    CNN Top Ten Hero Kim Carter
    CNN Top Ten Hero Kim Carter

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    CNN Top Ten Hero Kim Carter 01:48

    Help a Native American tribe

    Growing up, Rochelle Ripley spent her summers listening to her grandmother's stories. Her grandmother taught her about her Native American heritage. Before her grandmother died, she asked Ripley to do one thing: Go help the Lakota people.
    Today, Ripley is fulfilling that promise. Through her nonprofit, hawkwing, she has delivered an estimated $9 million in services and goods to the Cheyenne RIver Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.
    Ripley's group helps those in need with employment, safe housing and healthy food.
    Four to five times a year, Ripley makes the trip from her home in Glastonbury, Connecticut, to South Dakota's Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Working alongside the tribe, she and volunteers run a food bank and provide free health services, home renovations and educational opportunities.
    CNN Top Ten Hero Rochelle Ripley
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    CNN Top Ten Hero Rochelle Ripley 01:48

    Help single parents who have cancer

    For single parents, dealing with cancer brings its own set of challenges. Jody Farley-Berens saw the need firsthand, when her childhood friend faced that situation.
    "Making ends meet is insurmountable," said Farley-Berens. "There are so many doctors' appointments, co-pays, surgeries, prescriptions. And then the inability to work -- any savings that there may have been is gone very quickly."
    She did all she could to help. After her friend passed away, Farley-Berens helped start a nonprofit dedicated to assisting others in similar circumstances.
    Since 2006, Singleton Moms has provided practical, financial and emotional support to more than 300 parents in the Phoenix area.
    CNN Top Ten Hero Jody Farley-Berens
    CNN Top Ten Hero Jody Farley-Berens

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    CNN Top Ten Hero Jody Farley-Berens 01:49

    Help heal the sick and injured

    In Chicago's troubled neighborhoods, Dr. Daniel Ivankovich witnessed countless people struggling to get medical treatment because they were underinsured or didn't have any insurance at all. They were put on wait lists for months, even years, just to receive basic procedures, and their injuries got worse.
    "I thought to myself, this is happening in America?" he said.
    So Ivankovich vowed to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay. In 2010, he co-founded the nonprofit OnePatient Global Health Initiative.
    Today, Ivankovich runs three clinics in Chicago and performs more than 600 surgeries a year. He says more than 100,000 people have benefited from the program.
    "I know I can't fix everybody," he said. "My goal is to be the battering ram to help break down the barriers to get these patients the care and the resources they need."
    CNN Top Ten Hero Dr. Daniel Ivankovich
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    CNN Top Ten Hero Dr. Daniel Ivankovich 01:58