Summer may be just beginning but plans are already under way for Eastern Jackson County’s premier fall fundraising event.

Summer may be just beginning but plans are already under way for Eastern Jackson County’s premier fall fundraising event.

Sept. 24 is the date for the 16th annual “Toast to Our Towns Gala” to benefit the Truman Heartland Community Foundation. The yearly gathering is regarded as one of the area’s finest social gatherings, business and civic networking opportunities and moneymakers. Moreover, “Toast to Our Towns” pays tribute to the individuals and businesses that give Eastern Jackson County its unique character and reputation as a charitable and caring community.

For 16 years, the Truman Heartland Community Foundation Board of Directors has selected members of the community to honor with its annual awards. In September, the honor of “Heartland Humanitarians,” the Foundation’s most prestigious award, will be presented to Gene and Joanne Cable. The Cables are familiar faces around town, lending their time, experience and support to numerous charitable and civic causes. Married more than 60 years, the Cables are truly one of Independence’s “power couples,” having positively and profoundly impacted the lives of countless people through their philanthropic efforts.

While the Truman Heartland Community Foundation traditionally honors an area business with its “Corporate Citizen of the Year” award, the Board of Directors this year has elected to give a special recognition to Rotary District 6040 with the “Heartland Service Award.”

This is the second time that the Foundation has chosen to acknowledge the charitable contributions of a service organization with one of its top awards. The Junior Service League of Independence was the recipient of the “Corporate Citizen of the Year” award in 2005.

Rotary District 6040 was chosen based on the incredible impact its 54 clubs and 2,500 members have locally, nationally and internationally. Encompassing 34 counties in northern Missouri, Rotary District 6040 has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars and immeasurable volunteer hours to area charities throughout its history.

The Paul M. Thomson Advisor of the Year award will be presented to Rick Henks of Henks Financial Group. This award, established in 2010, is given to an individual who promotes philanthropy through professional services. Henks assists his clients in the creation and placement of life insurance policies to establish donor-advised funds at the Truman Heartland Community Foundation to create permanent endowment funds.

A highlight of each Gala is the presentation of the “Citizens of the Year.” These individuals are selected from each of the Eastern Jackson County communities by their respective mayors. The “Citizens of the Year” are honored at a special reception held prior to the Gala and receive recognition at the event.

Event co-chairs Joy Hobick and Judy Forrester have chosen the Independence Events Center as the Gala venue for the second consecutive year. With a theme of “Service Above and Beyond,” the duo’s soaring imaginations and exceptional party planning skills guarantee a spectacular experience for honorees and guests on Sept. 24.