When a person is convicted of a crime and required to perform community service, what exactly is involved?
The underlying law in Oregon is ORS 137.128, which says that
A judge may sentence an offender to community service either as an alternative to incarceration or fine or probation, or as a condition of probation. Prior to such order of community service the offender must consent to donate labor for the welfare of the public. The court or its delegate may select community service tasks that are within the offender’s capabilities and are to be performed within a reasonable length of time during hours the offender is not working or attending school.
Failure to perform a community service sentence may be grounds for revocation of probation or contempt of court.
Subsequent sections set limits on hours of service. §137.131 defines the one no-choice case of community service:
(1) The court shall impose community service as a condition of a probation sentence when a person is convicted of criminal mischief and the conduct engaged in consists of defacing property by creating graffiti unless the sentence includes incarceration in a county jail or a state correctional institution.
(2) The community service must include removing graffiti, either those that the defendant created or those created by another, or both.
It isn't clear what rules surround the creation of the community service list. Here is the web page for Multnomah County, here is one for Jackson County, and here is a Portland lawyer who has a list of community work service providers. That list provides a little bit of information about what is done, e.g. "serving means", "clean-up". It appears that an organization must be non-profit. The Humane Society page for community service gives a fair amount of detail about what you would be doing, but it is all cleaning up, not e.g. walking dogs.
It means work serving the community
Community service work can include a range of tasks, from the maintenance of public spaces, to preparing meals for community events. Work can be ongoing, seasonal or one-off, and cannot replace the work of paid employees.
Community Corrections has partnerships with community, government and non-government organisations to provide community service work opportunities for offenders. These organisations are known as ‘community service work partners’, and benefit from accessing labour for work that would otherwise be unable to be completed.