Work that is considered community service by the courts includes activities such as speaking to students about the dangers of drunk driving and cleaning up public areas, says Nolo. Courts direct offenders to perform community service at various government or nonprofit agencies such as libraries, religious institutions, parks and schools.
One example of an effective community service program involves gang member offenders helping mentally and physically challenged children with their daily routines, according to Nolo. Court-ordered community service entails working alone or with other offenders. Work is supervised by the probation department or directly by the government agency or nonprofit group where service is performed. Regular reports to a probation officer or to the court to prove compliance with the community service orders are sometimes required.
For-profit companies that provide services to the community, such as retirement communities, hospitals and hospices, may have opportunities for volunteer work that qualifies as community service, explains nonprofit consultant Jayne Cravens for Coyote Communications. In addition to other punishments such as jail time and fines, courts assign community service to offenders to help a cause or a community. Mandatory community service is intended to be restitution for an offense. It is important to ensure the work is performed for an acceptable organization before beginning the service.