VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Local students can soon expect a free field trip to visit the Anthony L. and Hideko S. Interactive Learning Center (ILC) located at Operation Smile’s headquarters in Virginia Beach.

TowneBank, a community bank operating more than 40 offices, is covering field trip admission fees for Hampton Roads area schools to visit the center.

Set in the Philippines, the ILC allows guests to virtually journey alongside patients affected by cleft conditions as they seek the safe surgery and comprehensive care they need.

The center aims to provide teachers with an exciting and interactive way to enhance their learning content and educate students about culture, medicine, geography, and leadership.

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“Helping Operation Smile is one of the most profound things you can do,” said J. Morgan Davis, CEO of TowneBank. “While we are local, it’s great to support something that affects people internationally. If you have the opportunity to go on a mission or see what happens on a mission virtually, it will change your life.

The ILC field trip allows students to participate in an immersive experience and learn about the challenges that patients and their families overcome as they seek improved health and brighter futures.

Operation Smile will hold an open house for local educators at the ILC on Wednesday, Dec. 15, from 4-7 p.m. where educators can experience first-hand what their students would do on an ILC field trip.

“Operation Smile has called Hampton Roads home for almost 40 years. While many are aware of what we do around this world, Operation Smile is proud to introduce the ILC as a new educational experience that connects us to our local community.” said Kathy Magee, co-founder and president of Operation Smile. “Thanks to the generosity of Hampton Roads donors and the support of TowneBank’s sponsorship of the ILC passports, we are able to offer field trips and education tours to schools for free through June 20, 2022.”

The interactive center encourages empathy and supports lessons in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM) as well as Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

The ILC has curriculum for all grade levels. Since officially opening this fall, the ILC has served elementary, middle, high school, private schools, and collegiate level attendees.

For more information about the ILC and how to book a field trip, visit