Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this tragic natural disaster. The Home Depot has an extensive history of providing support to our communities as they recover from natural disasters. Through these donations and future volunteer support from our associates, we will continue to play an integral role in our local communities and their rebuilding efforts during the upcoming months. As always, our associates shine their brightest when our communities face their darkest hours.
We will harness and focus the power of the corporate workforce as never before to improve the communities where we live, work and play. We have a powerful resource in millions of people, corporate Americans, who now will have even greater support from their employers to learn to lead volunteer teams and touch countless lives.
The Home Depot is beginning to gain traction from the transformational initiatives launched last year, ... We introduced new products, increased the overall inventory levels in our stores, and introduced a cohesive, nationwide marketing program. Collectively, these initiatives helped us perform through a tough environment.
The tough economy has put tremendous pressure on fourth-quarter sales performance and increased competition for share of the consumers' wallets, ... While home improvement is a high priority for our customers, they are also facing immediate and dramatic pressures in a number of areas, including record cold weather and rising energy costs, investment losses, higher interest rates and increasing consumer debt levels.
Tom Taylor brings decades of company and retail experience to his new role. He has touched virtually every part of company and has in-depth knowledge of stores, products, associates, suppliers and customers. Tom has served in numerous leadership roles that have directly influenced merchandising and marketing efforts.
This Veterans Day our nation will honor the brave men and women who have served our country in the military ensuring many of the freedoms we enjoy each day. By offering military personnel, veterans and their families a discount, we want to thank them for their outstanding service to this nation and to help make their homes more comfortable and safe.
Our initial direct cash contribution to the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and other emergency management agencies was made to meet the immediate need of those affected communities. With Rebuilding Hope Homes, we can channel the support of our large and loyal customer base to help fund the largest long-term rehabilitation and rebuilding project in our country's history.